Ever wondered how cigarette and bidi adverts would look if genuine users endorsed them? Well here are some specimens. These are adverts made with real people -- real tobacco users who were, not surprisingly, patients at Tata Memorial Hospital back in 2012. Some of these people are alive, while others have passed on.
In October 2012, I interviewed almost all of the people in these ads -- with the sole exception of "Malegaon Ka Superrman" lead actor Shafique Shaikh (who had already died). And these guys told me, up close and personal, how much they had enjoyed chewing and smoking tobacco -- up until the point that it ravaged their bodies.
Some of these people are still alive, but their bodies have been ravaged by radiation-therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Some who were diagnosed with oral cancer have had half their lower or upper jaw removed, along with the cheeks.
They needed extensive reconstructive surgery to carry on with their lives. Skin flaps from their chest and shinbones from their legs were harvested to reconstruct their faces. Needless to say, their professional lives and family lives were damaged beyond repair. Many of them can barely taste the food that they eat now. And they are living their lives one month at a time, never really sure when the cancer will resurface, and devastate their lives all over again!
Others, who were smokers, needed to have their voiceboxes surgically removed. There is no guarantee of where the cancer will strike a tobacco user, but tobacco chewers most frequently get oral cancer, and smokers often get throat cancer.
Greetings to you on World NO Tobacco Day, 2015.