Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 18:29 UK

Smoking-in-films rating debated

Humphrey Bogart smoking, in a scene from The Maltese Falcon
Classic movies like The Maltese Falcon would not be affected

People in Liverpool are being asked to give their opinion over plans to give films featuring people who smoke an automatic 18 rating.

The city council has put the idea out to public consultation after receiving an application from the local primary care trust (PCT) in June.

Films with images of smoking would only be suitable for adult viewing.

About 5,300 under-18-year-olds smoke in Liverpool, half of whom were influenced by films, the PCT has claimed.

If the proposals came into force, the 18 rating would not apply to films that provide a "clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking, other tobacco use, or second-hand smoke".

'Important factor'

Nor would it apply to classic films which feature smoking characters as the policy would only be applied to new releases, a council spokeswoman confirmed.

Councillor Malcolm Kelly said: "I would urge as many people as possible to take part as we want to get a broad range of opinions before we make a decision on this subject.

"Their views will be a very important factor when we decide about the PCT's proposal."

If the plans go ahead, cinemas and any other premises showing films would have to notify the council 21 days in advance if they intend to show films containing images of smoking.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is usually responsible for classifying films.

However, under the Licensing Act 2003 local councils have statutory powers to classify or re-classify films to be shown in their particular areas.

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