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This is the epic story of an unsung hero, his all-out war against tobacco, the greatest killer of all times and the saga of a dedicated man who has been waging this war for the last two decades: Justice K Narayana Kurup, the former Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.

In his conviction, tobacco is the greatest killer of all times, not the Tsunami, AIDS, not even nuclear holocaust. In support of this, the jurist says Tsunami strikes only once in a blue moon and the number of people dying from Tsunami and AIDS is far less compared to lives claimed by tobacco. While admitting that a nuclear warfare will spell the doom of mankind - there will be neither a victor nor a vanquished; victory will be as bad as defeat and all will be cremated equal - he maintains and firmly believes that the possibility of such a nuclear war is very remote and unlikely. There is no clear and present danger to humanity from a nuclear warfare; whereas the danger from tobacco is clear, present and immediate.

Tobacco kills people every minute, every hour, day in and day out and the death toll amounts to millions. On an average tobacco users are at 50 % risk of dying from tobacco related diseases and half of them will die in their prime age, losing several years of normal life expectancy and creating enormous social and humanitarian problems. It is true that the government collects huge amounts of money from the tobacco industry by way of taxation, but the tragedy is that whatever amount that is being garnered by the state is offset by the countervailing cost of expenditure for treating tobacco related diseases, rehabilitation of the victims of tobacco, lower productivity because of lost man hours and finally premature death as the last straw on the camel’s back. Therefore, he concludes tobacco is the greatest killer of all times.

The Campaign
As it happens in most cases, Justice Kurup did not go into oblivion after handing down the verdict and demitting office in 2001, as the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, but on the contrary as a private citizen he intensified the anti-tobacco campaign started by him many years before his elevation to the Bench in 1992 targeting not only passive smoking but tobacco itself covering millions of people through the print media, radio broadcasts, TV channel appearances, road shows, video shows, power-point presentations, poster and door-to-door campaigns, rallies, address to multitudinous gathering of students, the young and the impressionable, women and girls, tribal and labour colonies, officers and men of the defence forces, the police, corporate personnel and so on conveying a strong message against tobacco. Rarely do we find retired people pursuing any serious activity once they vacate office, but there are a few who stand out and they will live forever because of singular actions. Justice Kurup belongs to the latter category and has become a legend of his own time through his relentless and uncompromising battle against tobacco which he considers as the greatest monster of all times killing millions across the globe. His campaign against tobacco considered to be the largest in the world could prevent hundreds of thousands from falling into the insidious trap of tobacco, while enabling millions to kick the habit, being made aware of the horrors of tobacco.

He could cover the 33 million population of Kerala and many major cities in India and even reach out to countries like Qatar and other places as part of his mission to take on tobacco. In a society where everyone is content with mere talking, this man of great dynamism and limitless energy in his seventies is totally dedicated to what he says. Every public meeting and seminar he addresses is a platform for him to propagate the hazards of tobacco. His trailblazing campaign which has the support of opinion-makers, national and international celebrities and that of the general public as well, as could be seen from his documentary 'Battling the Epidemic' has weaned away hundreds of thousands of tobacco addicts, women and girls, the young and the impressionable, from the mesmerizing hold of tobacco. It has created a sea-change in the attitude of the people towards tobacco and the number of tobacco users has dwindled. He could create a silent revolution in the field of tobacco control through his selfless service to humanity paying a heavy price in terms of loosing career prospects, suffering the wrath of the powers that be and of a powerful lobby without any expectation of any personal gain or fame. In short, Justice Kurup whom age does not wither nor customs stale has made himself immortal by exposing and battling the mortal maladies of tobacco.

Justice Kurup's contribution to humanity in the field of public health by taking on tobacco frontally through his daring and fierce campaign is perhaps the most monumental one ever made by any non-medical person in the annals of history.

No wonder, Justice Kurup the iconic figure who defies definition is known by different names such as 'crusader against tobacco', 'patron of the non-smoker', 'medical judge' (because of his in-depth knowledge of medical sciences), 'the man who made burning problems for the smokers', 'one of India's major judicial figures at the turn of the 21st century' and so on.

Given below are the opinions expressed by five celebrities of national and international stature in his documentary 'Battling the Epidemic' which will give the viewer a glimpse of the ongoing no holds barred campaign against the killer leaf.


Dr. Samuel K. Mathew – Former President, Cardiological Society of India.
"It is remarkable to know that it is one of the world's largest anti-tobacco campaigns in existence. It has been covering millions of people with rallies, programs in schools, print media and TV channels. It has reached the hearts of millions and people are talking about it and I am sure that it is going to make a lot of difference not only in India but the whole world. The relentless campaign spearheaded by Justice Kurup and his team are doing an excellent service to the betterment of humanity"

Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer - Legal Legend and Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
"Here is a judge who has inaugurated a massive campaign among mankind.... a militant campaign for masses of people, and for a change in the life of the people, in the habits of the people."

Abhinav Bindra- Ace shooter and India's first Olympic gold medalist.
"I specially compliment and pay my tributes to Mr. Justice Kurup, a living legend and a down-to-earth judge who has earned an international distinction and cult figure status as a crusader against tobacco for his brilliant anti-tobacco campaign which is at once heroic, praiseworthy and commendable."

P. T. Usha - Asia's sprint queen
"It is a matter of pride for all of us that your anti-tobacco campaign has helped to terminate the unholy nexus between sports and tobacco. Thanks to your dynamic initiative sporting fields are now free from the obnoxious tobacco smoke. The youth of our nation are saved from the misleading aura of sporting starts performing under the banner of tobacco."

Hibi Eden – Former National President, National Students Union of India- NSUI
"The campaign has influenced a lot of youngsters in this country and it has been the most successful campaign in the history of India."

Justice Kurup receives a profusion of messages from various parts of India and abroad applauding his anti-Tobacco drive. One such message from an admirer as received by him the other day extolling the campaign and its inspirational value is as follows:

Priya venu ' Sun, Oct 28, 2012 at 5:45. AM

Hello Sir,

I am a MBA student at Hofstra University, New York and was doing a paper on "New York City Smoke Free Act 2002". As I was researching for my work, I was delighted to stumble upon an article that mentioned you.

Here is the clip:

“On 12 July 1999 a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in India banned smoking in public places by declaring "public smoking as illegal first time in the history of whole world, unconstitutional and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution .The Bench headed by Dr. Justice K. Narayana Kurup, held that "tobacco smoking in public places (in the form of cigarettes, cigars, beedies or otherwise)" falls within the mischief of the penal provisions relating to public nuisance as contained in the Indian Penal Code and also the definition of air pollution as contained in the statutes dealing with the protection and preservation of the environment, in particular, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act 1981"

As an Indian and especially as a Malayalee, I was extremely proud to read this. I then went on to learn more about you through your web page and saw the many accolades you have received through high and prestigious organizations. However with a great sense of pride, I felt I needed to write to you to express my admiration as well.

I work in a hospital and am not involved in any efforts in advocating a smoking ban. But as I worked on my assignment, I realized the efforts it took for enacting a law against smoking in public places in New York State. It takes a very special person to have treaded those path years ago and to have actually made an impact. Your example is a wonderful lesson and will have a profound effect on anyone who reads your story. You are a historic personality and have played a valuable role in building brighter futures, not just for the future generations in Kerala but for people around the world.

People can be motivated by such forces as beliefs, values, interests, and worthy causes. Your qualities of determination and conviction will always be an inspiration to the young generation. With a deep and genuine appreciation for your incredibly important work, please accept my sincere thanks for continuing to motivate young, common people like me.”

Regards and Respects,

Priya Venugopal
350-05 North Corona Avenue
Valley Stream
New York, 11580


Sticker campaign in progress Pledge to International Audience at Doha Addressing passengers of cruise vessel
Clarion call to the Government Documentary highlighting the hazards of tobacco and the on-going campaign In hot pursuit. Smokers feel the
heat of the Campaign
Campaign at the Headquarters of the
Southern Naval Command
Don’t dilute the law .. The jurist cautions the Govt. Anti-tobacco drive in Qatar
One of the mega campaigns...address to 10,000 students Meeting the press Speaking on the hazards of tobacco in 1998.
Media coverage of the mega campaign in the vernacular Administering pledge to the staff of the Little Flower Hospital, Angamali Smokers feel the pinch
Mega campaign continues Tobacco – the worst disaster Honor for the jurist
Abhinav Bindra joins the campaign
Jurist criticizes the Govt A change for a better tomorrow...

These photographs are only illustrative and not exhaustive – for more details of the campaign see the documentary Battling the Epidemic

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