Cinema can't kick the habit

With 15 smoking scenes an hour in 60 per cent of films, Hollywood is told to quit
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The Independent Culture

Cigarettes and smoking were glamorised in most hit films last year, according to new research. Health campaigners called yesterday for Hollywood to stop the practice, which is now worse than it was in 1950s films.

More than 160 of the top films last year were analysed by researchers from Breathe California, a US anti-smoking group. They found that 60 per cent of the films depicted smoking, with more than 15 cigarette-related scenes an hour. This compares with only 10 scenes an hour for films of the 1950s. Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer, said his films would in future carry smoking warnings.

Health campaigners are concerned because children are especially vulnerable to films showing smoking. They are nearly three times as likely to try tobacco if they regularly watch actors smoke.

Smoking featured in more than one in five of youth-rated films last year. Almost all films with a 15- certificate contained scenes of smoking, with people exposed to the sight of a cigarette every two minutes on average.

Kori Titus, the director of Breathe California, said: "Any tobacco depiction in kid-rated films is too much. Such depictions are a major factor in kids trying tobacco, a habit we know will lead to health problems and shortened lifespan."

Deborah Arnott, director of Ash, said: "Directors think that smoking is necessary to signify past eras in period films. [But they] have a responsibility not to model smoking to audiences."

Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California said: "A kid going to the movies is going to think smoking is as common as it was in the 1950s. Smoking in films is a more powerful stimulus than cigarette advertising."

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