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Teachers: PSHE: Alcohol Drugs Tobacco

Last Updated: Thursday August 31 2006 15:07 GMT

Smoking on TV and in films

PSHE Alcohol, drugs and tobacco


Tom and Jerry cartoons will have some scenes of characters smoking edited out after a viewer complained about them being shown to children.

Discuss young peoples' attitudes towards smoking and the power of TV and film.

Learning aims
  • Critically evaluate comments about tobacco smoking.

  • Learn some facts about smoking.

Tom and Jerry to cut out smoking.

Ask the class:

What reasons do people give for smoking?

  • All their friends do
  • It helps them to relax
  • It gets them going in the morning
  • It gets them friends
  • They enjoy it
  • It helps them to cope
  • They have a right to smoke, it's a free world

Why do some people give up?

  • They don't want smelly clothes
  • They could do with the money to buy loads of other things
  • They want to stay healthy
  • They don't need it
  • They don't want their kids to do it
  • They don't want a smoking-related illness
  • It's not fair on others who have to breathe in their smoke

Main activity

Discussion: Ban on smoking on TV and in films?


  • What would be a reason for banning smoking on screen?

  • What would be a reason for allowing movie stars to continue smoking on the big screen?

  • How do famous people affect you and the things that you buy?
Use these comments to start a discussion:
    [A] "Banning smoking on screen is purely a symbol to show something is being done - it is not even a step in the right direction. I think that peer pressure plays far more of a role"

    [B] "I don't think people should ban smoking in movies as smokers bring much needed funding to the country."

    [C] "I think that smoking should be banned on screen because it makes people smoke and the population might decrease because of cancer."

    [D] "Smoking on screen should be strictly banned! It is an extremely bad influence to young kids! I think it is stupid. The cigarette companies don't know the harm that seeing heroes smoking does to kids' minds."

Extension activity

Print our quick quiz on smoking and challenge students to find the answers.


Recap on the main teaching points and discuss which new things they have learned and things they may need to find out more about.

Teachers' Background

The law:

  • It is against the law to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 16 (but over 70% of young smokers report having no difficulty in buying cigarettes from local shops).

  • It is not against the law for under-16-year-olds to buy, possess or smoke cigarettes.

  • The advertising of tobacco products on television is banned (but many sports events such as Formula One motor racing and snooker clearly display cigarette brands).

  • Tobacco products must carry the general warning "Tobacco seriously damages health", and cigarette packets must carry a second warning on the back of the pack selected from a list of 15, such as "Smoking when pregnant harms your baby" and "Protect children: don't make them breathe your smoke".

    The facts:

  • According to the University of San Francisco, 77% of movies made last year contained at least one tobacco-related scene.

  • Half of the movies made during 1990 through 1995 featured one of the lead characters smoking. In the 1970's, this figure was 29%.

  • In Great Britain about 450 children start smoking every day.

  • Under-16-year-olds now spend about 135 million every year on cigarettes.

  • Some children as young as five are regular smokers.

  • In England in 1996, about 33% of girls and 28% of boys aged 15 were regular smokers.
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