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Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Thailand bans smoking on TV
smoking
Thailand has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world
By East Asia correspondent Clare Arthurs

Thailand has banned smoking scenes in films and documentaries shown on television in an effort to prevent young people picking up the habit.

The anti-smoking lobby has welcomed previous government moves to ban tobacco advertising in newspapers and on radio and TV.

However, now film makers have been protested that the ban restricts creativity and freedom of expression.

Health officials argue television must act in the public interest.

Tough laws

Thailand has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world and it was the first to have cigarette packets carrying warnings about sexual impotence.

Surveys have found a link between the popularity of film heroes and music stars and teenage Thais who pick up the habit.

cigarettes
Anti-smokers fear privatisation will open up the market too much

And there are more and more doing so, even though there has been a recent drop in the overall number of those who smoke.

Almost 80% of smokers in Thailand started before they reached the age of 20.

Polemics

The anti-smoking lobby may welcome the government's decision, but it could still argue not enough is being done.

Anti-smokers fear that government moves to privatise the state tobacco enterprise will open up the market, and they want more done to enforce existing laws.

It includes restrictions on advertising, laws against the sale of tobacco to children, and smoke-free zones in public places.

Thai censors already have their scissors ready to enforce a ban on homosexual scenes.

It is not yet clear how they will snip actors holding cigarettes.

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See also:

27 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Asian 'tobacco holocaust'
31 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
No-smoking day's big bang
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