Tobacco scenes in films and TV programmes should be rated as they entice young people to smoke

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Image shows cover of publication entitled Smoke-free movies: From evidence to action: Third edition.15 July 2017 – Children and young people are regularly exposed to scenes in which celebrities, even those known to be non-smokers, are shown unnecessarily smoking or holding unlit cigarettes or electronic cigarettes, giving the message that they are deliberately promoting tobacco. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on the entertainment industry to recognize the tactics employed by the tobacco industry to market and promote their deadly products through films and TV programmes.

The tobacco industry is deceptively using the entertainment industry to target young people by glamourizing tobacco use to encourage its use and initiation. The link between increased rates of tobacco use, especially among younger people, and greater promotion of tobacco use through films, drama and entertainment has been firmly established.

Movies showing use of tobacco products have enticed millions of young people worldwide to start smoking, according to the WHO Smoke-Free Movies Report – From evidence to action, the third edition. Taking concrete steps, including rating films with tobacco scenes and displaying tobacco warnings before films with tobacco, can stop young people around the world from being introduced to tobacco products and subsequent tobacco-related addiction, disability and death.

Recommended action steps

The WHO Smoke-Free Movie report, in line with the guidelines of article 13 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), recommends policy measures including:

requiring age classification ratings for films with tobacco imagery to reduce overall exposure of youth to tobacco imagery in films;

certifying in movie credits that film producers receive nothing of value from anyone in exchange for using or displaying tobacco products in a film;

ending display of tobacco brands in films; and

requiring strong anti-smoking advertisements to be shown before films containing tobacco imagery in all distribution channels (cinemas, televisions, online, etc.).

Read the full report