Nip it in the bud: Doctors target young addicts with films

A troubled Class X student Shantanu - the main protagonist in the 45-minute film Walan — is caught in a Hamletian dilemma, and despite wise counselling from a few good friends, eventually gets addicted to smoking, drugs and alcohol.

How bad parenting brings about his downfall is the highlight of this short film, a unique effort by a group of doctors working with Prevent Addictions Through Children's Education (PACE). It will be screened on March 30 at the National Film Archive Of India (NFAI).

Concerned about the increase in youngsters getting addicted to tobacco, PACE that includes ENT surgeons, physicians, paediatricians, cancer surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists and medical experts of related fields have been conducting a series of awareness programmes at schools and have reached out to more than 60,000 students so far.

Their efforts to dispel myths and focus on tobacco prevention has led these doctors to team up with PACE directors Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar for their a short film 'Pratidnya' that has so far been screened 70 times at various schools.

"Most tobacco-users are addicted to it even before they turn 20. What is most important is to stop them from taking their first puff," Dr Vandana Joshi, President of PACE and an ENT specialist, told Newsline. "Our second film is directed by Yogesh Jadhav and includes child actors Ketan Pawar (of Marathi film Shala fame), Chinmay Patwardhan and Omkar Deshpande and revolves round the negative and positive influences in Shantanu's life . The role of Shantanu is enacted by Chinmay Patwardhan, while 'bad' boy Bunty's role is enacted by Ketan Pawar.

"It is too soon to measure the impact of such awareness programmes or films, as even parents at times are not aware that hookah smoke contains nicotine," Joshi said.

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