“Shahrukh Khan Quit Smoking” Campaign – Fair or Unfair?

Posted on June 6, 2011 in Media and Culture

By Devika Mittal:

Being a busy-struggling-with-DU’s-May-attack-non-smoker, I forgot that a few days back it was World’s Anti-Tobacco day. But then as I signed into my Facebook, I saw some interesting status messages and updates about my friends joining new communities. It was then that I realized what day it is today. But I cared less. In the evening, I heard about a campaign urging Shahrukh Khan to quit smoking, on a radio station. Many people were asked about their opinion- Why Shahrukh should quit? I felt a little uncomfortable. My thinking mill had started.

The Campaigners argue that Shahrukh Khan is a public figure. He is a role-model for thousands and so his actions are imitated. Shahrukh Khan was, thus, promoting smoking unintentionally. He should quit for the welfare of his fans, of the people. While it is true that Shahrukh Khan exercises influence on the mentalities and actions of thousands. He is definitely a public figure. But doesn’t this action interfere in his personal, real (not reel) life? Smoking is very harmful. They say, “One cigarette cuts 15 minutes of your life”.

But Shahrukh Khan is not ignorant. He is a literate man. Smoking is his personal choice. The Campaign threatens to make the line between personal and professional thinner. That happens when you are famous, argues some. But is that good? Also, if Shahrukh Khan does not quit smoking due to the pressure of this campaign, his image will be tarnished.

On the other hand, I also feel that public figures have certain social obligations. They are expected to be ‘moral’. They have the power to influence the mentalities of the populace. Some celebrities are literally worshipped (I don’t think I need to give the name!). In such a scenario, if Shahrukh Khan is expected to quit smoking, he would be contributing to the welfare of the society. Shahrukh Khan’s quit will encourage many. This will also strengthen his popular image.

But I cannot take a decision. I don’t know who to choose- Delhi boy Shahrukh or the superstar Shahrukh Khan!

All in all, the larger question is, should super stars remain moral to set examples? Or can they go about their regular habits?

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. She is a  history student, obsessed with ‘debating’, ‘discussing’ or rather ‘arguing’!

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Pratham Karkare

A mighty interesting post !! Personally , I believe that it is always better to put forward an opinion rather than forcing someone to take a decision on an aspect which may entirely be his personal habit . As you pointed out , SRK is a literate man and hence it will be wise only to put forward the general view as a piece of advice. 

meghavarshini krishnaswamy

Well,  studying for my ethics paper on Thursday, I read for the first time(yep!) a course paper which dealt with media probing into the private lives of public figures in order to satisfy  public curiosity. Here’s the deal- Shah Rukh Khan hasn’t been smoking in public or in his films. He objects to being photographed smoking as publishing such photos would send the wrong message. Thus, he has been faultlessly doing his duty as a role-model and inspiration in the public space and if the media didn’t invade his privacy or pass judgements, his smoking would be a fact people knew about but not one that gave the act “coolness”. However, this is a mere role that his position assigns him it does not define him. His personal habits are being attacked just to show to the world that he is fallible and incapable of being a successful actor and hence a role-model, not a responsibility that he must be saddled with but one that he, like most actors these days has taken up willlingly. An argument cannot be given whether the media is justified in invading SRK’s privacy or not but in his defence, publically, he is a non-smoker and his conduct in impeccable and thus, he not a bad influence on impressionable viewers.


It’s really nice that you can embibe your passion for an element of History, with writing  -2 of my passions as well!!
Am a HUGE SRK FAN AND  a person who is hugely anti smoking : and I don;t think the two are contradictory.
Stars are definitely public figures, but they have the right to their own choices. As another reader said he doesn’t encourage smoking in films nor does he tell people to smoke.
So I disagree with the Shah Rukh Khan Stop Smoking Campaign – while as a fan, I would wish that he smoked for his own health reasons, and the longevity of his life – but I don;t think any one has the right to ask someone to stop a particular habit.
Having many friends who smoke – including my best friend I know that they one can not stop smoking and other related addicted habits unless they want to.

Devika Mittal

Thanx a lot for the comments :) @paratham.. ya ur ryt. it cud have been a mere advice.
@meghavarshini.. thnx i really liked ur comment. didnt knw that srk had objected to being photographed while smoking.
@rgkahani.. “It’s really nice that you can embibe your passion for an element of History, with writing -2 of my passions as well!!” thts gr8 :) u r againt smoking n a srk fan yet u don support the campaign.. seriously, u shd have been on the radio channel dat day!

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