Guwahati, Oct. 19: It is not the Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, but Korean actors who are drawing youths to light up their cigarettes in Mizoram.
The landlocked hill state has the highest number of tobacco users in the country.
Jane R. Ralte, the state nodal officer of Mizoram State Tobacco Control Society told The Telegraph from Aizawl that Mizo youths watch a lot of Korean films, which have innumerable scenes showing actors in the puffing act. "I do not want to say that Shah Rukh Khan and other Bollywood stars are not popular among the Mizos. But Korean films have become more popular in the state of late, with youths worshipping their heroes. There is no restriction on actors smoking and chewing tobacco products in Korean films. Hence, youths who watch these films, are toeing the line of their heroes, even if it is just for fashion," Ralte, a project officer of the Smoke Free Mizoram scheme, said.
Korean films like Stairway to Heaven, Wish Upon A Star, Brilliant Legacy, Delightful Girl and Greenhouse are a craze in the state, she said.
The Northeast fact-sheet of the global adult tobacco survey of the Union ministry of health and family welfare recently revealed that 37.2 per cent of the population in Mizoram is addicted to cigarettes, 24.5 per cent to khaini, 16.5 per cent to paan masala, 6.9 per cent to betel nut and 6.1 per cent to bidi.
According to the World Health Organisation, India has the second highest tobacco consumption in the world.
A WHO study also revealed that tobacco is portrayed in 76 per cent of Bollywood films, with cigarettes making up 72 per cent of all portrayals influencing people to smoke.
Actors like Shah Rukh Khan have been opposing the government's attempt to ban smoking on screen saying it was hard to implement.