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There will always be an idiot with a smart phone, willing and waiting to bring someone down with it. It’s quite the weapon, this smart phone. So, what is a star supposed to do when she’s filmed smoking, in what she must have considered a private and safe space?

Case in point is Mahira Khan’s latest video, filmed backstage at the Lux Style Awards on February 20, 2018 and released now, which I would say is strategically timed when she’s making headlines for her brilliant interviews with foreign publications, when she’s in the news for her PSL appearances and when her three films – Maula Jatt, 7 Din Mohabbat In and now Paray Hut Love – have been announced and are being anticipated. Mahira also has a key position as Brand Ambassador at L’Oreal and will be representing Pakistan at Cannes this year. Only someone with a very nasty chip on their shoulder would intentionally (because it’s not coincidental) bring a star this loved down at a time when she’s shining so bright. But truth is that the film industry is all about shoulders, most of them quite cold.

It’s quite obvious that only someone who’s posing as a friend or colleague (because the camera is that close to her) has saved, cherished and now released the clip. But the thing is, even if some jerk did release that clip and the world got to see Mahira smoking, what’s the big deal?

What is it about women and cigarettes anyway? Smoking is not a carnal sin; it breaks no code of morality or decency and is harmful to one’s own health, sure, but why does it set people off in an epileptic fit, especially in the male species? There is no medical evidence to certify how smoking can lead to epilepsy in passive smokers. And if passive smoking is a problem, which it is in many areas, then it should be prohibited in those spaces. But the problem is that smoking as a health hazard is not even the issue here. It’s the whole ‘haw hai, soota laga rahi hai’ moral brigade that raises the alarm, which is the issue. It’s the problem men have with a woman (rephrase that to a beautiful, successful and mostly single woman) smoking that is the issue.

Can we please get over these misplaced ideals of what is wrong and what is right?

As for Mahira, she’s experienced enough to handle the situation. She can a) laugh the issue off and relish the fact that she’s up there to begin with, b) talk about the vice of smoking, how she realizes its bad for one’s health and how she doesn’t want to influence her fans by smoking in public and c) quit smoking.

Whatever she decides is her decision. Smoking is not contagious; can we please not treat it as an infectious disease that will effect, rather infect, the (mental) health of the nation.