Films in which people smoke should be given adult rating, says WHO

Big Tobacco increasingly using films to market cigarettes to children, WHO warns

Ian Johnston
Monday 01 February 2016 02:07 GMT
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A year after you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker
A year after you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker

Films in which people smoke should be given an adult rating because tobacco firms are using them to market cigarettes to children, the World Health Organisation has said.

In a report published on Monday called, Smoke-Free Movies, the WHO says 44 per cent of Hollywood’s output and 36 per cent of films rated for young people in 2014 showed someone smoking, the Guardian reported.

For example, in Transformers: Age of Extinction, a 3D science fiction action film based on the popular toys, there is a robot that smokes cigars.

Dr Armando Peruga, of the WHO’s tobacco-free initiative, said: “We saw for a while a decrease in the tobacco incidences in films and other entertainment productions.

“But based on what we monitored, we saw in 2013-14 a turning point – a picking-up of the number of tobacco scenes.

“The tobacco industry has been looking at alternatives to promote their products and film is the last frontier for tobacco companies.

“In some films, the percentage of tobacco scenes is far greater than you would see in the society in which the film is set.”

According to an American study, nearly four out of every 10 adolescents who take up smoking do so because they have seen film and TV stars doing it.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2014 that six million young people would start smoking as a result.

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The WHO made a similar call in 2009 but was ignored by governments across the world.

It has also tried to persuade film-makers to not show the brands of tobacco used and to add a line to the credits to say they were not paid in any way for featuring smoking in their films. But again this request has largely been ignored.

The British Board of Film Classification told the Guardian that adult smoking would not automatically result in a film being classified 18, but said if the practice was glamorised the picture would probably be given a higher classification.

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