x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Where's there's smoke, expect ratings

In light of a proposal that any on-screen reference to smoking should garner a film an adult rating, what will become of childhood favourites?

At the moment, the film versions of 101 Dalmatians, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are all rated either PG or U, meaning that they are, for the most part, considered suitable for general viewing.

However, a recent report published by Thorax, a medical journal, which is part-owned by the British Thoracic Society, has proposed that films featuring actors smoking must automatically be issued with an adult (18) certificate. This would potentially mean that, thanks to Cruella De Vil's penchant for cigarettes, Captain Hook and his double cigar holder and the shisha-smoking Caterpillar who aggravates Alice, the movies mentioned above would be off-limits to children.

The report, which was produced by researchers from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, is basing these claims on the results of a study of 5,000 teenagers. The 15-year-olds were asked to identify films they had seen out of a list of box office hits (Spider-Man, The Matrix and Bridget Jones's Diary among them). Results showed that those who had seen the most films featuring smoking were 75 per cent more likely to have tried it themselves and 50 per cent more likely to be smokers, compared with their peers who had watched fewer movies. The conclusion is that smoking in films not only glamorises but encourages the habit.

In terms of response, the British Board of Film Classification has so far stood firm behind its current system, stating that while this is an issue, there is no clear public demand for a change to the way in which ratings are issued.