BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Friday, 14 December, 2001, 00:08 GMT
Smoking in movies under fire
Hollywood sign
Hollywood is accused of serving the interests of tobacco companies
The more teenagers watch actors smoking in films, the more likely they are to take up the habit themselves, research published on Friday suggests.

The study, in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, reaffirms previous findings linking teenage smoking to smoking in movies.


The British Board of Film Classification should now sit up and take notice of this growing body of evidence

ASH spokesman
Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, USA, found the likelihood of ever trying cigarettes increased with higher exposure to smoking in films.

Researchers surveyed almost 5,000 American children between the age of nine and 15.

They found that among children who had watched films with 50 or fewer occurrences of smoking less than 5% had tried cigarettes.

In comparison, among those who had watched films with more than 150 occurrences of smoking almost a third had tried cigarettes.

Pervasive

James Sargent, associate professor at Dartmouth Medical School and lead author of the study, said the research showed a link between teenage smoking and smoking in movies.

"The results indicate that exposure to tobacco use in films is pervasive. More importantly, such exposure is associated with trying smoking, which supports the hypothesis that films have a role in the initiation of smoking."

In an accompanying editorial, Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, urged the film industry to take action saying it provided "powerful evidence" of a link between teenage smoking and smoking in movies.

"It is time for the entertainment industry to accept responsibility for its actions and stop serving the interests of tobacco companies," he said.

Prof Glantz has launched a campaign called 'Smoke free movies' challenging Hollywood to take effective steps to stop actors smoking in films.

He has suggested that filmmakers certify in the credits that they have not received anything of value - cash, cigarettes, and publicity - in exchange for using or displaying tobacco.

He has also called for strong anti-tobacco advertisements before any film that contains scenes showing smoking.


When smoking is glamorised in movies, young people are encouraged to experiment with a lethal habit

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, BMA
Prof Glantz has campaigned for any movies with smoking scenes to be given an adult classification as a way of deterring moviemakers.

Anti-smoking group ASH backs this idea and called on the British Board of Film Classification to reclassify films with scenes of smoking.

"The British Board of Film Classification should now sit up and take notice of this growing body of evidence," said a spokesman.

"Classifying films as a '15' if they have a lot of smoking in them by stars who are role models, adding nothing to the plot, would send a powerful message to writers and directors.

"It will tell them that if they want to use cigarettes as a prop in their films, there might be a price to pay".

'Lethal habit'

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's Head of Health Policy and Research said: "When smoking is glamorised in movies, young people are encouraged to experiment with a lethal habit.

"British film stars are seen in movies at home and around the world. They must be aware that their actions have a real impact on children's lives."

She added: "Parents have a right to know whether their children's favourite film stars are being paid to push cigarettes. Any film that receives sponsorship from the tobacco industry should be required to declare that information."

See also:

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories