Tag Archives: smoking scenes

Tobacco industry using films to promote cigs in India

Popular Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan seen smoking in his latest movie

Popular Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan seen smoking in latest movie

The tobacco companies are more and more looking on cinema for promoting their products across India and neighboring countries, after tobacco advertisements were banned, according to the World Health Organization.

Lately, the cigarette makers have also been stripped of the sponsorships of social events, like music festivals and athletic meetings, what forced their shift to movie industry, the WHO declared in its report “Smokefree movies: From evidence to action”.

A study of popular movies has demonstrated that tobacco products displays boomed in Bollywood after tobacco ads were prohibited in 2004. According to the study, 76 percent of 395 top-grossing movies depicted smoking. The percentage of smoking scenes involving lead characters grew from 22 reported in 1991 up to 54 in 2002, whereas out of the 110 Hindi films shown in cinemas in 2004-2005, 89 percent contained scenes with tobacco use. The main characters were depicted smoking in 75 percent of these films.

The brand displays were equally used to promote premium cigarette brands owned by British American Tobacco and its main rival, Philip Morris International , which entered the Indian cigarette market when tobacco advertising ban took place.

Resorting to movies to promote tobacco use is a worldwide phenomenon. In the United Kingdom, where most types of tobacco ads are prohibited, Hollywood youth-rated movies contained more than 80 percent of all tobacco scenes in 2001-2006. In Australia, a 2008 survey showed that 70 percent of all films depicted smoking scenes, with 75 percent shown in top-rated movies. In Canada, a study published in 2009, showed that 75 percent of smoking scenes were contained in youth-rated films.

The smoking images contained in movies – depicting particular brand or otherwise – are usually consistent with tobacco usage adverts rather than with the images of the severe health complications related to tobacco consumption, the WHO said. Smoking in movies benefit tobacco companies and lure teenagers into smoking, the report highlights.

Hamish Maxwell, the former chairman of Philip Morris International, had admitted this fact in 1983, according to the WHO report, citing him as recognizing that it was vital to continue to use new opportunities to show tobacco on screen in order to promote smoking and keep it a socially-acceptable habit.

The World Health Organization proposed to give adult rating to all films which contain smoking scenes to reduce their possibility to be seen by minors and influence on them. An exception could be given to movies showing hazardous effects of tobacco consumption, it notes.

Some other facts mentioned in the report:

– Films have been associated with underage smoking in India, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, England, Poland, Germany, Scotland, The Netherlands, Mexico, Italy, and Iceland;

– Scenes depicting main characters consuming tobacco rose from 22 percent reported in 1991 up to 54 percent in 2002.

Films with smoking scenes would probably get an 18 rating in Britain

All the movies showing characters lighting up are likely to automatically get an “18-rating” in Birmingham. Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) pushes for an ordinance to rate smoking films as 18-rated to prevent minors from seeing smoking and getting attracted to cigarettes.

According to the statistics by Birmingham Health Department, more than five thousand local teenagers under 18 years are on-and-off smokers. PCT states that almost a half of them were lured to pernicious habit after seeing their favorite celebrities smoking on big screen.

smoking in films and 18 rating

In case the ordinance is passed, the municipal council would be entitled to classify such films among 18-rated in conformity with the Licensing Act of 2003. Nevertheless, the city lawmakers underlined the fact that they have not come to a decision yet, and all residents should take part in public hearings and share their opinion with the authorities. The hearings are planned to start later this summer.

Under the ordinance, classic black-and-white films showing smoking scenes will not be subject to review, as the regulation would only be applied to the latest films, release after its approval. Councilor Ronald Woodstock, head of Licensing Committee stated that the proposal should be thoroughly examined before its consideration.

He said the PCT have presented their report to the Council several months ago, claiming that high underage smoking rates in the City could be explained by the high likeability by teenagers to pick smoking after seeing film characters smoking and starting to think that the habit is fashionable.

However, he added that they need to examine the reports of other organizations on that topic before making a final decision. In conformity with the 2003 Licensing Act, local authorities are entitled to rate films which are showed only across their territories. The Birmingham PCT issued a report, stating that the smoking rates are 29 percent, 7 percent higher than the national level, therefore, council should act instantly to reduce underage smoking.

In addition the PCT report cites results of similar reports in other countries that concluded the smoking in films has been one of the major factors causing minors to try cigarettes. Sue Carlyle, spokesperson for British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) declared that although the council has the statutory authority to re-rate movies, the public was likely to oppose that re-classification.

She stated that according to a survey they have recently completed, the public denied smoking to become an issue for 18 rating for films. She added that BBFC usually classifies a film only upon thoroughly examining its content, message and appeal. The BBFC would definitely consider smoking as an issue for re-rating only in case smoking would be heavily advertised in that film, what they haven’t seen for a long time.

Ms. Carlyle also said that in case some parents think their children should not watch the film that has few smoking characters, they should simply switch their TV to another channel.

Smoke-free movies campaign is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Part 1

The “Smoke-free Movies” campaign was initiated last week with a truck driving a billboard where people could see a teenage girl thinking, “Which movie will make me to smoke this summer?” That billboard could be seen driving nearby the major Hollywood movie studios.

The authors of the recent campaign include the American Medical Alliance, California Public Health Department and some other anti-smoking organizations. The representatives of aforementioned organizations declared that they will do their best to secure a R rating by the Motion Picture Association rating system for all films which contain smoking scenes in order to force movie producers to avoid showing smoking in future films as a hidden product placement strategy.movie billboard smoking They also said that the moving billboard would make scheduled stops nearby every significant film studio. In addition, the Medical Alliance representative stated they would track all the movies released this summer and the studio that filmed the largest number of movies with smoking scenes and the company with the worst record of summer smoking films will get a specially designed sarcastic billboard in front of the main entrance this fall.

Up till now, the recently initiated campaign has only managed to find one spring box-office film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” that placed Fox studio in the strong leading position in the list of movies depicting smoking. The Alliance cites the main character Wolverine hanging around with a cigar between his lips in several scenes of the movie, whereas Fox executives has responding by confirming the fact that the superhero never actually smoked it in the film, although he was a chin-smoker in the comic-book.

Another May box-office leading film with smoking scenes was Angels & Demons, which showed the Cardinals put out their cigarettes going to conclave meeting. But, nobody smoked or at least had a cigarette in the mouth in a major scene, which lasted a couple of seconds. However, the health activists hastened placing the movie among those showing smoking on big screens.

Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, the smoke-free tendency would instantly come to nothing with the release of The Adventures of Marlboro and Ciggy Puff in mid summer. Parents, be aware.

The America Motion Picture Association chairman stated they already elaborated an amendment to the rating system with drawing attention to smoking in movies when rating a new film and providing parents with a description of the scenes that might be inappropriate for their children. He also declared that health organizations request for “R” rating to any movie containing at least one smoking scene would be extreme and unacceptable suggestion.” However, because the agency responsible for movie rating is sponsored by the studios, such thing is impossible to happen at least in the nearest future…To be continued…

Legendary cartoon banned due to smoking scenes

During more than a half of century Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse have been the best entertainment for millions of children around the world. However, today several organizations have found “unacceptable” scenes in this cartoon and are trying to censure it.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) activists issued a complaint letter to the British Office of Communications (nicknamed as Ofcom) stating that several episodes of Tom and Jerry cartoon contained “absolutely unacceptable” scenes where the characters were showed smoking thus these episodes should be banned.


Anti-smoking activists were especially concerned with two episodes of the legendary cartoon named “Tennis Chumps” and “Texas Tom”. These episodes were shown several months ago by Boomerang – a digital channel for children. According to ASH members, these episodes contained several scenes absolutely inappropriate for a cartoon directed at minors. “Tennis Chumps” episode filmed back in 1949, Tom competes in a tennis match against his rival Butch, who is smoking a cigar with one hand and playing with another. In “Texas Tom” made in 1950, Tom is trying to attract a female cat by smoking a cigarette.

The regulation body has sent a warning to Boomerang administration, declaring that they should not broadcast cartoons where smoking is either “encouraged, promoted or glamorized”.

The Ofcom communication manager also issued a requirement, stating that channels directed for children would have to show a very high level of editorial censorship banning smoking scenes even form old cartoons filmed when cigarettes where habitual otherwise such channels would be stripped from their broadcasting license.

However, Boomerang administration was very prompt to react on the new regulation. After only two days from receiving the warning, Turner Broadcasting Corporation the holder of Boomerang’s license, declared that their editors have begun editing out the scenes where smoking is shown. According to Corporation’s estimations almost 2,000 episodes of cartoons courtesy of Hanna-Barbara studios had smoking scenes. Among such cartoons were the world-famous Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and other.

Turner Broadcasting spokesperson said that the corporation has recognized that it has been unacceptable for children’s cartoons to encourage smoking or show it in a cool context. He added that the Boomerang editors would review all the cartoons produced at Hanna-Barbara studios in order to eliminate all the scenes that seem to glamorize or promote smoking.

The regulation of Ofcom has triggered mixed reactions.

One of the members of pro-smoking group Forest claimed that the situation with cartoons censorship is absolutely absurd. He said Forest members simply don’t understand why they are not trying to remove the scenes containing violence from Tom and Jerry cartoon. Probably the violence scenes are more acceptable for showing to children than those scenes that contain smoking.

Forest group activist urged that the situation could cause an extremely dangerous precedent in the field of censorship.

Irene Stanford, the Ash member supported the Ofcom initiative stating that many researches confirmed that children who had seen their favorite carton or movie character smoking were more likely to begin smoking themselves. Yet, the Ash group was not very happy to hear that historical legendary cartoons would be censured in order to cut smoking scenes.