Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has appealed to Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to stop smoking in movies as millions of youngsters emulate them and imbibe the bad habit.
"I have already made appeals to Shah Rukh Khan," Ramadoss said in Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate programme being aired on CNN-IBN Sunday.
"But I would be happy to do it again and say, 'Please don't smoke in your movies, Mr. Shah Rukh Khan'. I would like to make an appeal to Mr. Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and all the other personalities.
"Fourteen-year-olds are taking to tobacco. India should be very, very concerned about the alarming rise of incidence of tobacco (use) amongst young people," the minister emphasised.
Criticising movies with smoking scenes, the minister said: "The movies are most responsible (for encouraging smoking). When I said movies should not have smoking scenes, we have statistics which show that 52 percent of children have their first puff of a cigarette because of movie celebrities."
When asked about Shah Rukh smoking during a recent cricket match, Ramadoss said the actor should not have done it.
"Absolutely not. What was the necessity? See these are celebrities and millions of youngsters look up to these celebrities...I again say to celebrities, in whichever field they are, whether it's movies or sports, not to do these things in public."
Responding to a question if Shah Rukh and Amitabh could stop smoking like Tamil superstar Rajnikant, the minister said: "Easily, they could do it. Without a doubt."