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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 01:47 GMT 02:47 UK
Film tobacco promotion 'warning'
Films are still using tobacco brands, a study says
The number of tobacco brand appearances in US films aimed at children has not fallen significantly despite an agreement to stop them, a study says.

Major tobacco companies agreed to stop pushing for their products to be promoted in the arts from 1998.

Before the deal 15% of films aimed at children showed tobacco brand names, or trademarks, while after it, 12% did.

The study by Hanover's Dartmouth Medical School appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings contrasted to the sharp drop in tobacco brand appearances in adult films, which fell from 30% before the agreement to 13% after it.

Researchers looked at 800 top box office films in total - 400 made before the agreement and 400 produced after it.

Companies, and not just the tobacco industry, like to use films to promote their products. It is a way of reaching their audience almost subliminally
John Beyer, of Mediawatch UK

Overall, the appearances dropped from 21% of films to 11%.

Report author Dr Anna Adachi-Mejia said the difference in reduction of tobacco brand appearances in films rated R - which stands for restricted viewing in the US and is only allowed to be viewed by adults - and PG-13 - films which require parental guidance for under 13s - was surprising.

And she added: "It's worrisome because part of the intent of the agreement was to reduce tobacco advertising directed towards youth, and our study demonstrates that tobacco brands are still appearing in films rate for adolescents."

She said films such as Men in Black II, What Women Want and Mona Lisa Smile - all of which were rated PG-13 in the US - had tobacco brand appearances.


John Beyer, director of campaign group Mediawatch UK, said the use of such branding in films was "worrying".

"Companies, and not just the tobacco industry, like to use films to promote their products. It is a way of reaching their audience almost subliminally.

"It is particularly concerning when it is targeted at children and also when it involves a product such as cigarettes."

A spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America said it did not dictate the content of films to writers and directors but said the drop in appearances was not statistically insignificant.

A spokesman for the Tobacco Merchant Association, a trade body for tobacco companies, said he was surprised to find films still had tobacco brands appearing in them.

"The agreement was strongly supported by the industry. If they are found to be in breach of it they can be fined.

"I don't think this will be because of anything tobacco companies are doing. It could be that films are including the brands."

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