01 December, 2020

Who Called The Fire Brigade?

It's balconies, landings, staircases for smokers nowadays. The intolerance pitch is on a high.

Who Called The Fire Brigade?

Cigarettes, Kurt Vonnegut said, were always the classiest way to commit suicide. In India, too, smoking cigarettes was once perceived as a cool, seductive, natural social activity, which aided thought and reflection, sharpened discussion, helped a writer find the mot juste. But the perceptions of urban Indians are changing. Recently, at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, capital of the bindaas counterculture, authorities tried to ban the sale of tobacco products, a step towards making the entire campus a no-smoking zone. Could there be a surer sign that cigarettes are becoming the centre of a new moral battle in institutional spaces and living rooms across the country?

Overall consumption of tobacco in India has increased over the last 25 years, but that's thanks to a growing tribe of beedi-smokers and tobacco-chewers. The cigarette's share of tobacco consumption has actually declined, both relatively—from 23 to 15 per cent—and in absolute terms, from 86 million kg in 1981-82 to 76 million in the last fiscal. While the average...



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