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Tobacco companies getting creative

BATTLE AGAINST SMOKE. Anti-tobacco advocates aggressively push the line against smoking. AFP Photo.

BATTLE AGAINST SMOKE. Anti-tobacco advocates aggressively push the line against smoking. AFP Photo.

SINGAPORE – The Philippine health department saw through the unbelievably numerous scenes depicting smoking in the movie, “Manila Kingpin: The Untold Story of Asiong Salonga.” It is, an agency official said Thursday, a form of indirect advertising and promotion of cigarettes, which is prohibited by law.

Earlier this week, select journalists from different countries were asking Matthew Myers, president of the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), just that: Aren’t movies just depicting reality — that there are people who smoke — when they include such scenes?

Myers’ reply: Characters holding a cigarette or puffing it in a movie scene is “not reality” because majority of people are non-smokers. Including smoking in movie scenes therefore “misleads” the viewing public to think that it represents a habit of more people.

The recently launched Tobacco Atlas shows that only nearly 20% of the world’s adult population smokes cigarettes.

Besides, he said, “You don’t watch movies to see people smoke,” and so those smoking scenes are really unnecessary. There’s no other way to interpret those scenes but as indirect advertisement influenced by the tobacco industry.

The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 prohibits tobacco companies from placing advertisements in the paid media — TV, cable channels, radio, newspapers and magazines, cinemas, and billboards. The law doesn’t allow them to sponsor public events or hire celebrity endorsers. They cannot engage in any activities that promotes or displays their brands and logos, except inside the retail establishments where the cigarettes are sold.

The ban has since driven tobacco firms to subtle advertising by influencing the content of so-called free media such as news and movies. Newsbreak reported in 2009 that they have been providing “grants” to filmmakers to include smoking scenes in their movies, regardless of whether brands are shown.

“Manila Kingpin,” which starred Laguna Gov E.R. Ejercito, showed actors smoking in half of the movie — in 44 out of 91 scenes. Anthony Roda, acting chief of the government’s National Center for Health Promotion, noted that the film “is filled with tobacco and smoking scenes from the first 4 minutes of the movie up to the last few minutes towards the end. Smoking is also very obvious in the movie’s trailer, music video, print advertisement and poster.”

Roda said smoking scenes “send the wrong message to our children” and “entice people to crave for cigarettes.”

SUBLIMINAL. Smoking in public places has been banned but government regulators find resistance. AFP photo.

Look glamorous

This was exactly Myers’ point. Movies make smoking look glamorous, especially to young people who are vulnerable to such subliminal messages.

Experts support this. In 2011, Simon Racicot of Concordia University in the US said, “Kids who see others smoking are more likely to take up the habit because they don’t perceive cigarettes as unhealthy.”

John Pierce of the University of California in San Diego found in a study in 2005 that, “If movie stars smoke, especially in romantic films, they are effectively encouraging young girls to smoke.”

Myers recalled that the Marlboro Man, the “worst US export,” was conceptualized after psychologists and advertising experts identified the vulnerability of young people — they were looking for an identity and found it fashionable to model the cowboys which they didn’t have in their countries.

As early as 1975, Philip Morris had said in confidential corporate documents that the best time to entice people to smoke is during their youth when “conformity to peer-group norms is greatest.” RJ Reynolds in 1998 said they should target the young because “younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers.”

That is why, Myers said, the youth have to be protected from the tobacco industry’s marketing schemes. In 2008, Myers and CTFK became instrumental in pressuring Philip Morris to withdraw its sponsorship of 2 concerts in Southeast Asia, as this violated the advertising bans in those countries — the Eraserheads reunion concert in the Philippines, and R&B singer Alicia Keys’ show in Indonesia. –

Smoking in the movies affects children and youth

From: James Middleton []
Sent: 17 March, 2012 14:20
To:‘; ‘‘; ‘
Subject: Smoking in the movies affects children and youth

PDF attachment: what the US Surgeon General just said about the R-rating in movies


Watching Movie Stars Light Up May Spur Kids to Smoke

HealthDay – Wed, Mar 14, 2012

New: Now the email button gives you a quick and easy way to start a conversation.

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) — The more smoking they see in movies, the more likely young adolescents are to start smoking, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 public-school students in Vermont and New Hampshire who were not regular smokers at the start of the study.

The students provided information about their background, movies watched and use of tobacco in 1999 when they were aged 9 to 14 (early exposure). Follow-up interviews were conducted in 2006 and 2007 when the participants were aged 16 to 22 (late exposure).

The study authors found that students aged 9 to 14 who saw more smoking scenes in movies were 73 percent more likely to become regular smokers than those who saw fewer smoking scenes.

Students aged 16 to 22 who saw more smoking scenes in movies, however, did not have a greater risk of smoking than those who saw fewer smoking scenes, according to the study published March 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“These results indicate that early exposure to smoking depicted in movies is associated with established smoking in adolescents, whereas late exposure is not,” Dr. Brian Primack, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues said in a journal news release. “These findings suggest that prevention efforts should focus on the reduction of exposure to smoking depicted in movies when children are at a young age.”

Although the study uncovered an association between high exposure to smoking scenes in movies at a young age and becoming a regular smoker, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. The authors also noted that the study was limited in that it focused only on white students enrolled in Vermont and New Hampshire public schools.

Download PDF : sfm_ad84

Surgeon General report: exec-summary

The new Surgeon General’s report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, contains an extensive discussion of the effects of smoking in movies on young people. The bottom line: ‘The evidence is sufficient to conclude that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people.’ (Page 6)

Significantly, the 36 page long section, ‘Images of Smoking in Movies and Adolescent Smoking,’ is in Chapter 5, ‘The Tobacco Industry’s Influences on the Use of Tobacco Among Youth.’ The Surgeon General is effectively putting smoking in the movies in the same category as conventional cigarette marketing activities. Indeed, the summary of Chapter 7, ‘A Vision for Ending the Tobacco Epidemic,’ concludes, ‘Greater consideration of further restrictions on advertising and promotional activities as well as efforts to decrease depictions of smoking in the movies is warranted, given the gravity of the epidemic and the need to protect young people now and in the future (page 7).

The report reviews the ‘Historical Links Between the Tobacco Companies and the Movie Industry’ (pages 565-566) and concludes that lowering young people’s level of exposure to on-screen smoking leads to lower risk of smoking (page 593) and and endorses an R rating for smoking as a way to reduce the level of exposure (page 598).

The report also discusses the varying response to the issue of smoking in the movies by studio, and names names (page 570), noting that as of 2010 three studios had policies in place that had nearly eliminated smoking in their youth-rated movies (Disney, Time Warner, Universal) while the others had not (Viacom, News Corp., Sony, and the independent producers).

The ‘fact sheet’ that goes with the report states, ‘Youth who are exposed to images of smoking in movies are more likely to smoke. Those who get the most exposure to onscreen smoking are about twice as likely to begin smoking as those who get the least exposure. Images of smoking in movies have declined over the past decade; however, in 2010 nearly a third of top-grossing movies produced for children — those with ratings of G, PG, or PG-13 — contained images of smoking.’

The full 36MB report, fact sheet and supporting materials are available at:

European governments should stop subsidizing films with tobacco imagery

The European Commission has recently completed a public consultation
on the future provision of state aid for audiovisual works.
Although not its main aim, the consultation provided an
important opportunity to challenge the way that EU governments
currently subsidize US and domestic films with tobacco imagery.
Given the growing evidence, initially from the USA but now from
seven European countries, of a causal link between exposure to
tobacco imagery in films and smoking initiation among youth,
recently brought together in updated WHO guidance,1 we call
on EU governments to end their subsidies that now amount to
E263 million over 2008–11 for films with tobacco imagery.

The European Commission has recently completed a public consultationon the future provision of state aid for audiovisual works.Although not its main aim, the consultation provided animportant opportunity to challenge the way that EU governmentscurrently subsidize US and domestic films with tobacco imagery.Given the growing evidence, initially from the USA but now fromseven European countries, of a causal link between exposure totobacco imagery in films and smoking initiation among youth,recently brought together in updated WHO guidance,1 we callon EU governments to end their subsidies that now amount toE263 million over 2008–11 for films with tobacco imagery.

Download PDF : eurpub.ckr183.full

Govt to tighten norms for on-screen smoking

12 Nov. 2011

After banning real-life smoking in public places, government has decided to tighten norms for on-screen smoking too. From November 14 no TV programme or film can easily show smoking scenes or any other tobacco products.

The government believes tobacco use in films influences young people towards smoking. Hence, in an attempt to discourage tobacco consumption, particularly smoking, the Union ministry of health and family has made it compulsory to have health spots and scrolls talking about ill-effects of tobacco, compulsory in all old and new films and TV programmes showing smoking scenes.

Accordingly, all new films and TV programmes must have strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products and the actor concerned must give a disclaimer of 20 seconds each regarding the ill-effects of the use of such products. This disclaimer has to be used in the beginning and middle of the film or the television programme.

The films and programmes must also carry strong anti-tobacco health spots or messages, of minimum 30 seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the film or the TV programme.

Besides, a strong anti-tobacco health warning must be there as a prominent scroll at the bottom of the screen during the period of such smoking scene.

For old movies and TV programmes produced before November 14, 2011, displaying tobacco products or its use have to be telecast at such timings that are likely to have least viewership. They also must carry anti-tobacco health spots or messages and anti-tobacco health warnings.

To restrict blatant display of tobacco brands in old films and TV programmes, the new rules make it mandatory to crop /mask display of brands of cigarettes or any other tobacco product, their closeups. In new films and TV programmes such scenes have to be edited or blurred by the producer prior to screening. The ban on display of tobacco product or its usage also extends to promotional materials and posters as well.

The government has also decided to place a representative of health ministry in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to monitor such scenes from now. Films with heavy use of tobacco products are likely to get “A” certificate.

The new norms are likely to trigger fresh debate as in the past too, actors and directors have protested against ban on smoking scenes.

Tougher anti-tobacco rules for Television, films

Updated on Saturday, November 12, 2011, 08:28

New Delhi: Henceforth, every time an actor is seen taking a puff on screen, a prominent scroll warning that smoking is injurious to health will run at the bottom. What`s more, the actor will personally read out the ill-effects of smoking, say the new health ministry rules to be effective from Monday.

According to the rules, all filmmakers depicting usage of tobacco will have to show a message or spot of minimum 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the concerned film or TV programme.

For films or programmes being made after Monday, a strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products or their use shall be given to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with a UA certification.

A representative from health ministry will also be present in the CBFC.

It will also need a disclaimer of minimum 20 seconds duration by the concerned actor regarding the ill effects of the use of such products in the beginning and middle of the film or television programme.

Also, the names of brands of cigarettes and other tobacco products will also have to be cropped or blurred.

“India has the largest film producing industry and films have played a key role in the process of social change and in influencing the Indian culture. Thus, for the tobacco industry, films provide an opportunity to convert a deadly product into a status symbol or token of independence,” a statement from the ministry said Friday.

“The role of movies as vehicles for promoting tobacco use has become even more important as other forms of tobacco promotion are constrained,” it said.

According to a combined study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the health ministry, tobacco usage was shown in nearly 89 percent movies in 2005 compared to 76 percent in 2003.

Nearly 75 percent of the movies showed the lead character smoking in 2005 and 41 percent showed the brand.


Filmmakers must justify smoking scenes: Govt

Malathy Iyer, TNN Nov 5, 2011, 02.36AM IST

MUMBAI: Actors can light up on screen but it’s going to be a drag. They will have to, before their film ends, mouth a 30-second-long dialogue underlining health risks associated with smoking.

This is one of the new directives in the amended law that governs advertising and marketing of tobacco products and depiction on screen.

After Bollywood’s persistent pleas about creative license, lawmakers seem to have moved away from an all-out ban on puffing and instead preferred a deterrent. For instance, a U/A certification is another price to pay for including a smoking scene. The rules say theatre owners must blur out scenes in old movies and shows, so if one were to watch ‘Casablanca’ in a theatre,Humphrey Bogart with a cigarette dangling from his lips would be made hazy. So would Dev Anand in ‘Jewel Thief’.

“The second amendment to the Act was published in the Gazette of India on October 27. The rules will be effective from November 14 for both the film and TV industry,” said a Union health ministry official.

The rules are precise – a federal health officer will sit in on Censor Board screenings to ensure that rules aren’t broken and a health-warning scroll runs across the screen when an actor lights up.

Health messages of at least 20 seconds will have to be shown twice–before and during the film or TV show. Also, it would be an offence to use pictures of stars smoking in promotional material.

The two-page amendment says filmmakers must justify to the Censor Board the need for smoking scenes, edit out logos of tobacco companies and ensure no tobacco-related scenes are used in promos.

“It’s possible that the film needs a smoking scene for creative reasons. But it would be out of context to show an actor smoking on the promotional posters,” said the health ministry official.

The new rules come more than five years after the then Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss had sought a complete ban on on-screen smoking along with a ban on smoking at public places.

Health activists aren’t happy. “From a public health perspective, a complete ban would have been better. But the fact that an actor has to give a disclaimer is good enough,” said Delhi-based Monika Arora of the Public Health Forum of India.

Cancer surgeon Pankaj Chaturvedi from Tata Memorial Hospital said, “The new rules promote a more holistic approach rather than a moral policing one.”

He, however, hopes that filmmakers will so dread the prospect of providing in-film disclaimers that they will include fewer scenes with cigarettes and chewing of tobacco.

“We want to ensure that the habit isn’t promoted,” he added.

Centre urged to check depiction of tobacco use in Indian films

Nov. 1, 2011

Noting that there is a strong link between exposure to tobacco use in films and its abuse among Indian youth, a non-government organisation working in the area of tobacco control, Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), has written to the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification urging their immediate intervention to stop rampant depiction of tobacco use in Indian films.

“In a first of its kind Indian study, HRIDAY had found that Indian adolescents who are exposed to tobacco use in Bollywood films are more likely to be tobacco users. The cross-sectional study was conducted among nearly 4,000 students from 12 schools across the Capital to assess their current and ever tobacco use status, receptivity to tobacco promotions and exposure to tobacco use in movies,” noted the letter.

“This evidence highlights the need to strengthen implementation of Section 5 of the Indian tobacco control law, Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), which bans all direct and indirect forms of tobacco advertising. There is an urgent need to finalise rules related to depiction of tobacco use in films, particularly prohibiting smoking and tobacco use, which glamorises this behaviour for the young audience giving an impression that smoking and tobacco use is a norm. All concerned authorities in the Indian Government, need to work concertedly in this direction. And this is what we are telling the Ministry and CBFC,” said Dr. Monika Arora of HRIDAY.

Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have initiated joint discussions to tackle the unabated display of smoking and tobacco use in Bollywood films.

“The Government’s ruling to prohibit the depiction of smoking in films has been challenged by a renowned film producer on grounds of freedom of expression. Owing to the Delhi High Court’s decision to uphold the petition, the matter is now pending in the Supreme Court. Though the apex court has stayed the High Court’s decision, the matter is pending for final adjudication,” she added.

HRIDAY has been repeatedly writing to members of the Bollywood fraternity on the issue of tobacco use in films.

“We even sent a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) kit and tips to quit tobacco to actor Shah Rukh Khan following his publicly-made claim to attempt quitting. HRIDAY also sent a letter to film actor Aamir Khan, applauding his suggestion to include tobacco control messaging at the start of film screenings and his attempts to address the influence of tobacco use in Indian movies. A letter was also sent to Ajay Devgn urging him to quit on-screen tobacco and alcohol use following his acceptance to be the brand ambassador of Maharashtra’s “Save the Girl Child” Campaign,” added Dr. Arora.

NGO study finds adolescents exposed to tobacco use in films more likely to be users

Smoking Is a Drag at the Box Office: Scientific American

An analysis of top-grossing movies from the last decade shows that films with smoking make less money

BURNING MONEY?: Movie-makers are burning potential earnings when they have onscreen characters light up, new research suggests. Image: iStockphoto/THEPALMER

It could almost be enough to make  Cruella de Vil consider a nicotine patch: a new analysis has found that films with scenes that show smoking reliably make less money at the box office than their cigarette-free counterparts. The finding, says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, adds to the case for giving any movie that depicts smoking to an automatic ‘R’ rating.

Together with Jonathan Polansky, who helped craft anti-smoking messaging in the past and now heads the California-based media campaign company Onbeyond, Glantz reviewed information on 1,232 movies released in the U.S. that were among the top 10 grossing films for at least one week between 2002 and 2010.

Movies with bigger budgets tended to earn more at the box-office, as they were more likely to feature big stars and massive promotional marketing. Moreover, PG-13 films had a better chance of making more money than R rated films—in part because the former are accessible to a wider age-range of moviegoers. But even after controlling for factors such as total budget and film rating, the researchers found that smoking was associated with 13 percent less money made in ticket sales.

Thirteen percent might not sound like a big difference, but it can translate in to many millions of dollars given the huge profits of blockbusters. Last year, for example, Inception and Iron Man 2 each made around $300 million in U.S. theaters alone.

“Putting smoking in the film isn’t leading to more popular films that make more money,” Glantz says. It’s leading to less popular films that make less money.” As to why films with smoking make fewer dollars, Glantz says he is uncertain, but he adds it might be part of a collection of edgy behaviors in a film that don’t appeal to audiences as much as movie studios expect.

The research, which was funded by the Legacy Foundation, a Washington, DC-based tobacco prevention nonprofit, was published online September 26in Tobacco Control.

Smoke screen

The controversy over cigarettes in films has raged for decades. It was not so long ago that tobacco companies paid directors to include scenes with smoking. For example, the company American Tobacco, which is now part of British American Tobacco, maker of brands such as Lucky Strike, gave a product placement firm at least $675,000 between 1984 and 1994 to get its products featured in films.

Perhaps best known for documenting that big tobacco knew for decades that nicotine was addictive and that smoking causedcancer, Glantz leads the Smoke Free Movies project, which aims advocates for the automatic ‘R’ rating for any film that shows characters puffing away on screen, to prevent ”anyone under the age of 17 from seeing the film in the theater without the accompaniment of a parent or adult guardian.

In September, the World Health Organization echoed the call for worldwide adult ratings for films depicting tobacco use. And other researchers have called for similar age restrictions, including Andrea Waylen of the University of Bristol in the UK. A study published by Waylen and her colleagues in the journal Thorax, released last month, crunched survey data from more than 5,000 adolescents and found that those 15-year-olds who had watched the most films featuring smoking were 73 percentmore likely to have tried a drag than their counterparts who had seen the fewest such films. “The results of our study indicate that it’s very important that children are protected from smoking in films,” she says. Waylen adds that the findings from Glantz’s study strengthen the case for adult ratings: “If there is no associated increase in [movie] income what possible excuse is there for smoking to be included?”

The rating of a film, which is ultimately set in the U.S. by the Motion Picture Association of America, is usually in mind before the first frame is shot, and written by studios into the contract of many movie directors, according to Glantz. So he hopes the new findings will convince studios to keep cigarettes out of the frame: “Hollywood is all about money. They talk about art, but it’s all about money.”

But not everyone is convinced that automatic ‘R’ ratings for smoking provide the answer. Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney, who describes himself as “‘enemy number one’ of the tobacco industry here in Australia”, says that using this type of adult classification is an inefficient way of keeping youngsters from trying cigarettes. “I think that it’s a very minor thing,” he says of movie ratings. He adds that making more films R-rated would unfairly put the onus on parents to sort through which films show violence and sex, and which ones show smoking.

Chapman also points out that the new report from Glantz and Polansky does not take sales of DVDs and downloads into account—and many teens are able to view R-rated films this way. He adds, “the fact is that kids are already seeing R-rated films with great ease. Even the ones whose parents don’t allow them to do that find a way.”

The Motion Picture Association of America says it takes a highly contextual approach to determining film ratings, rather than an ‘automatic’ approach based on a checklist.  “We believe that we should treat smoking as we treat all other rating elements,” says Howard Gantman, a spokesperson for the association.

However the campaign for automatic R-ratings for smoking turns out for future films, smoky classics such as Disney’s 1961 cartoon 101 Dalmatiansfeaturing Cruella De Vil puffing away at her cigarette holder—will likely remain a popular children’s movie for years to come. “In fact,” Glantz notes, “101 Dalmatians was one of the smokiest films made.”

EC State aid for films and tobacco use among young people

Download PDF : EU-Cinema Consult-1 HT.2950