Tuesday 21 August 2018

'Extremely inappropriate' - anti-smoking group complains to RTÉ over lighting up on air

#HaveYourSay: Do you agree that smoking on television sets a bad example to children?

The cast of legal drama Striking Out
The cast of legal drama Striking Out

Sean Nolan

An anti-smoking group has written a letter of complaint to RTÉ over the smoking featured in their Sunday night legal drama 'Striking Out'.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Ireland sent the letter to the national broadcaster earlier this month saying that the portrayal of cigarette smoking in the show 'normalised' the behaviour.

The show, which is broadcast on RTÉ1 at 9.35pm on Sunday stars Amy Huberman as a Dublin-based solicitor and is now in its second series.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, chairman of ASH Patrick Doorley said that the complaint was made as the smoking in the show was "extremely inappropriate" and it showed cigarette smoking as a "normal, grown-up behaviour".

Mr Doorley went on to say that the less exposure children had to smoking in the media, the less likely they are to take up the habit.

In the letter to RTÉ, seen by Independent.ie and addressed to Director General Dee Forbes, ASH said: "A number of people have raised the issue of the amount of smoking witnessed by your viewers of the second episode of ‘Striking Out’ on Sunday 14th January last.

"Witnessing smoking on such a programme normalises smoking for viewers, especially young people. This runs contrary to all that is being achieved by our health services, advocates and citizens by reducing smoking to some 18% of the population in the past fourteen years.

"I would be keen to know what is the RTÉ policy in regard to smoking on various programmes, especially those created and commissioned by RTÉ and funded in many instance by the taxpayer. I expect that you would have a bar in place on programme makers taking funding from the tobacco industry under any guise whatever. We will be writing similarly to the BAI."

In the episode concerned two characters, one played by Maria Doyle Kennedy, the other by Neil Morrissey, are seen smoking in an office.

In a response to the Sunday Times, Striking Out producer Yvonne Donohoe said the characters smoking was part of a particular storyline that would be featured in later episodes.

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