Researchers are keen movies that contain scenes showing actors smoking should be banned for the under-18s. If this were the case Spiderman would carry the same 18 certificate as Pulp Fiction.
It would place most classic movies beyond the reach of children.
Survey analysis found a correlation between teenagers who had watched age-appropriate films (ie U, PG, 12, and 15) and smoking – in that those who had seen the most movies depicting smoking were more likely to have tried cigarettes than those that had seen the least.
The distinction was even clearer where the youngsters were already regular smokers.
I’m not disputing the findings although perhaps it could be that young smokers were attracted to meatier fare and so films where smoking was most likely to occur.
The billion dollar advertising industry is predicated on the belief that people’s needs can be manipulated. So it is quite possible that seeing glamorous characters on the screen smoking could reinforce the status of the habit as the grown-up thing to do.
I hate smoking and worry that smokers are ruining their health and bank balances – and place a needless burden on the National Health Service. It is an addiction.
I was a regular but never a heavy smoker in the years around university. The weight of evidence linking cigarettes and lung cancer was so overwhelming I gradually gave up.
But sanctions like giving ‘smoker movies’ 18 certificate status would merely reinforce the taking up of smoking as a rite of passage that might well appeal to young minds.
If the thought police feel underemployed they should focus their attention on getting the bloody mayhem accessible to teenagers in 15 certificate horror and action films bumped up to 18 and over.
I would worry about the mental health of any cinemagoer that had seen all five outings of the Final Destination franchise; let alone a 15-year-old witnessing the most recent slaughter of young lives for entertainment.
The researchers would do better to monitor body counts rather than cigarette stubs if the influence of movies is so pernicious.