Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Smoking-in-films rating rejected

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

Proposals to give automatic 18 ratings to films shown in Liverpool which feature smoking characters have been rejected by councillors.

Liverpool Primary Care Trust (PCT) had wanted young people banned from seeing onscreen smoking because of research suggesting it influenced children.

But a public consultation found little support for the idea and cinema owners felt it would affect business.

Liverpool Council's licensing committee has recommended the idea is rejected.

It means the cabinet are unlikely to back the amendment of the authority's licensing policy.

More research

An estimated 5,300 under-18s smoke in Liverpool, half of whom were influenced by films, the PCT claimed.

Under its proposals, classic films which feature smoking characters would be unaffected and the policy would only be applied to new releases.

However, films about historical figures and those which show a "clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking" would have been exempt.

The policy would only apply to films shown in Liverpool.

In a public consultation, 73% of young people asked about the policy opposed the idea. Officials found that 65% of adults questioned also opposed the idea.

The licensing committee advised the PCT to consider lobbying at national level, or commission further Liverpool-based research to back the idea.

Film distributors could also be persuaded to place public service announcements before films which contain images of smoking, they added.

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