Tobacco campaigners have attacked incompetent film regulators and insouciant politicians for failing to act upon evidence suggesting that teenagers are being lured into smoking by seeing it in movies.
The call by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies for a complete overhaul of film regulation to protect young people from pervasive and highly damaging imagery has been rejected despite what the centre considers compelling evidence.
Alison Lyons and John Britton from the centre wrote:
Smoking in films remains a major and persistent driver of smoking uptake among children and young people, which the actions of irresponsible film makers, incompetent regulators and insouciant politicians are abjectly failing to control.
Researchers at the University of Bristol found that 15-year-olds most exposed to films in which characters smoked were 73% cent more likely to have tried a cigarette, and nearly 50% more likely to be a current smoker, than those who watched the fewest films featuring smoking.
The campaigners call for films that feature smoking to be automatically classified as 18 and to be regarded as dangerous as illicit drugs and violence.
A Department of Culture, Sports and Media spokesman said:
The Government believes the current arrangements provide sufficient control on the depiction of smoking in films and a total ban would be a disproportionate interference. This action would undermine the credibility, and therefore the quality, of domestically produced films.