Call for control on smoking in Chinese TV and movies

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A still of 'The Message'


The Chinese Association of Tobacco Control (CATC) is calling on The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) to exert tougher controls over TV and movie scenes showing people smoking.

It follows CATC's study of 40 Chinese films and 30 TV series made last year, according to

It found that the film celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China - "The Founding of a Republic" and the WWII espionage blockbuster "The Message" top the list for the amount of smoking shown.

Only nine out of the 40 films were smoke-free, while more than 11 percent of "The Founding of a Republic" and nearly five percent of "The Message" had scenes involving smoking.

CATC has now sent a letter to SARFT calling for legislation that would restrict the amount of smoking shown in films and TV.

The Association's concern is backed up by research conducted by the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its survey of 11,000 high school students found that one third of them admitted imitating actors they see smoking on screen.

Cigarettes have long been closely connected with heroic characters on screen, and this is especially true of those in "The Message" and the great real-life characters in "The Founding of a Republic".

Huayi Brothers Media, the producers of "The Message" said the appearance of smoking in the film was a legitimate part of its story and they hadn't intentionally set out to highlight the habit.

CATC admits there has been a decrease in smoking scenes in film and TV in recent years but it is expected that SARFT will nonetheless introduce stricter rules for their inclusion in future.

CATC is also planning to set up the Dirty Ashtray Award for celebrities who smoke in smoke-free areas in public.

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