Saturday, 1 May 2010

No dice

Some of Britain's biggest recent films have come under fire from doctors who say they are more likely than Hollywood movies to include specific cigarette brands.

Do doctors find time to see any patients between making all these demands? This bit of PR does not, of course, come from real GPs, but from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, which has been hard at work again.

They counted the number of incidents of smoking or smoking-related references or depictions in the 15 most popular films released in the UK between 1989 and 2008.

OK, not that hard at work. 15 films from a 20 year period? Don't wear yourselves will you, guys?

And what have we learnt from this exhaustive study?

"Although smoking imagery and branding images in the most popular films have become substantially less common over the past 20 years, it is apparent children and young people watching films in the UK are still exposed to frequent and, at times, specifically branded tobacco imagery, particularly in films originating from the UK", Prof John Britton and colleagues write.

Dr John Britton—for it is he—is rapidly becoming the UK's answer to nutty professor Stanton Glantz. And if the answer is 'Stanton Glantz', the UK is asking the wrong question.

All the usual suspects hold forth with pro-censorship guff—Ian Gilmore, Martin Dockrell, Terence Stevenson etc. But what makes this article worth flagging up is the British Board of Film Classification's beautifully curt response:

A BBFC spokeswoman, Sue Clark, said it had no intention of changing its policy. "These doctors are out of step with public opinion. We have asked the public specifically if smoking should be a classification or category-defining issue, and the response overwhelmingly was no, it shouldn't." 

The board flags up overt smoking content through its consumer advice, the short sentence on all film advertising which warns about sexual or violent content, and also by setting out on its website the factors underlying its decision to grant a film a particular rating, she added. "It's then up to parents whether or not they stop their children seeing that film."

The BBFC have realised that there is no point compromising with, or even engaging with, these pressure groups and their endlessly escalating demands. By virtue of the job they do, BBFC members are more broad-minded than the puritans who purport to speak for the medical profession. Their reply—which amounts to 'shut up and get back in your box'—is really all that needs to be said. Politicians, please take note.

On a completely different note, there is a report on the International Harm Reduction Conference here (PDF—tobacco reports on pages 6 and 7). And there is a new review of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist in the Austrian newspaper Die Presse here (translation here).

1 comment:

Dick Puddlecote said...

"We have asked the public specifically if smoking should be a classification or category-defining issue, and the response overwhelmingly was no, it shouldn't"

And there, in a democracy, should the matter end. But ... if anyone hasn't read the end of the story, I won't spoil it for you. ;-)