Love Island and other shows encourage young people to smoke, say campaigners
The campaigners made a submission about smoking on screen to the Select Committee on Science and Technology.
Reality TV show Love Island encourages children to take up smoking, campaigners have warned.
Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) said last summer’s series of the ITV programme was one of the worst offenders when it came to exposing young people to smoking on screen.
The series “delivered an estimated 47 million gross tobacco impressions to children aged under 16”, the campaigners said in a submission to the Select Committee on Science and Technology.
The proportion of Oscar-nominated films containing smoking this year was 86%, up from 60% four years ago. Sir Winston Churchill drama Darkest Hour was one of those mentioned.
The campaigners said children in the UK are still exposed to significant amounts of smoking on screen and that it is the amount of smoking that is important, not whether it is glamorised or not.
The submission includes new figures calculated by Cancer Research UK which show that despite declines in smoking prevalence, a large number of young people are still taking up the habit.
Ash and UKCTAS want regulator Ofcom, and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to monitor youth exposure to depictions of tobacco use on screen and to publish that data in their annual reviews.
They also want the bodies to revise their guidelines with respect to smoking on screen in entertainment media viewed by under-18s, to discourage any depictions of tobacco use and to require action to mitigate any remaining exposure.
Ash chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Our surveys show children reporting high awareness of smoking on screen, particularly in films and TV.
“Ofcom and the BBFC, which regulate these sectors, need to take the necessary steps to warn parents of the risks and protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco imagery.”
Smokers’ lobby group Forest has said attempts to reduce the amount of smoking on TV and in films would be a “gross attack on artistic freedom” and a “blatant attempt to rewrite history”.
Director Simon Clark said “films and television should reflect the world as it was and is, not as prohibitionists would like it to be”.