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Letter | Smoking in children’s films—covert tobacco advertising causing smoking uptake or much ado about nothing?

In order to be smokefree by 2025 it is clear that New Zealand needs to both continue to support current smokers in their attempts to quit smoking and do everything possible to discourage children and adolescents from starting.

In recent years, evidence of a dose-response relationship between exposure to smoking in films and youth smoking behaviour has solidified. The US National Cancer Institute concluded: The total weight of evidence from cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental studies indicates a causal relationship between exposure to depictions of smoking in movies and youth smoking initiation.

ASPIRE2025 researchers argue that reducing exposure to smoking and to smoking imagery in all media should be an important part of the smokefree 2025 strategy, and requires better control of smoking in films, a key loophole through which such exposure is perpetuated.

A measure required to reduce children’s and adolescents’ exposure to smoking is to apply adult-ratings to films which portray smoking. The only exceptions should be films which portray historical characters who were smokers or films which depict, as a major focus, the adverse health effects of smoking.

To read more, view this letter published in NZ Medical Journal.

Citation: Maubach, N., Hoek, J., Edwards, R., Crane, J., McCool, J. 2013. Smoking in children’s films – covert tobacco advertising causing smoking uptake or much ado about nothing? New Zealand Medical Journal,126(1375), http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/126-1375/5666/ (log in required before December 2013).