1. When did you start smoking?
Saif Ali Khan: When I was 16 in London. I started smoking because I thought it was really cool to smoke. I’d look into mirror and blow smoke rings into the air.
It eventually became a habit. I’d smoke all the time. It kept my brain functioning when I was shooting long hours. Then I read Ayn Rand. She said it’s apt for a man to smoke because it means his brain is also ignited.
I don’t know many lives that kind of philosophy has messed up.One should be careful about such ‘cool’ habits being propagated in literature.
2. When did you quit smoking and why?
Right after my heart scare when I went into hospital for a heart condition. When doctors said it was smoking that brought it on I quit completely.
3. How do you avoid the temptation?
It’s highly addictive, that’s for sure. And anyone who gives it up after 15 years like I did has an uphill task staying clean. But then you’ve your work and other diversions to keep your mind off the cancer stick.It’s a terrible habit and I’m happy about the public ban on smoking.
4. But isn’t it a curb in personal freedom?
Then why not let people smoke marijuana and coke? Why act moral about those poisonous drugs and not nicotine which is just as powerful and lethal? Nicotine kills more people than any other drug.
5. So you’re happy about the ban?
I think it’s extremely unfair for non-smokers to be inflicted with smoking. Now that I’m on the other end I hate people smoking around me. But I’m big on freedom. I think smoking should be completely banned in confined places.
6. What about banning smoking in movies?
I don’t agree with that at all. It does character to parts. You can’t censor a character in movies for smoking. If I portray a drug addict I’d have to show me taking it. It doesn’t mean I’ll be glorifying it. Sometimes to condemn an evil practice in movies you’ve to show it. Smoking should be given Adults certificate in movies.
7. Final thoughts?
Smoking should not be treated as a trivial vice. It’s a Class A drug. It kills you. It nearly killed me. Nobody should smoke, I feel bad for smokers who have to quit. I know how tough it is to quit. I miss it sometimes, eventhough it almost killed me.
8. Do you want a total ban on smoking?
I repeat, I am big on personal freedom. I don’t want to smoke and I don’t want anyone I love to smoke. I certainly don’t want my children to smoke. When I was 25 I smoked in front of my mother. I wonder how I got away with it. To damage your own system in front of a parent is a rude thing to do. If my son smoked I won’t stand for it.
Saif tells his story how a chain smoker comes on the right track: he says "When I was 16 in London. I started smoking because I thought it was really cool to smoke. I'd look into mirror and blow smoke rings into the air."