Vapouround magazine VAPOUROUND MAGAZINE OCTOBER ISSUE19 - Page 29

NEWS One in three prime time TV shows contains tobacco content Calls to tighten regulations to protect children from such exposure By Patrick Griffin Tobacco content seen on UK prime time TV is likely to “heavily influence” young peoples’ take up of smoking, according to new research. A University of Nottingham study has revealed that tobacco content is seen in one third of all prime time programmes despite regulations designed to protect children from such exposure. The research, published in the Tobacco Control journal, says that the amount of tobacco exposure has hardly changed in five years and calls for broadcasting guidelines to be revised to protect children. The study looked at the tobacco content of all prime time programmes, adverts, and trailers broadcast on the five national free to air TV channels during the course of three separate weeks in September, October, and November 2015. Their analysis included any actual or implied use, such as holding a cigarette without smoking it, or making a comment about smoking; smoking/tobacco paraphernalia; and presence of branding in one-minute intervals. The results were then compared with those of a similar analysis carried out in 2010. In all, 420 hours of broadcast footage, including 611 programmes, 909 adverts, and 211 trailers, were analysed. Some 291 broadcasts (17 percent of all broadcasts) included tobacco content. The channel with the most tobacco content was Channel 5, and the one with the least was BBC2. Tobacco content occurred in one in three TV programmes broadcast, and nearly one in 10 (8 percent) adverts or trailers. Actual tobacco use occurred in one in eight (12 percent) programmes, while tobacco related content - primarily no smoking signs - “Audiovisual tobacco content remains common in prime time UK television programmes and is likely to be a significant driver of smoking uptake in young people” occurred in just two percent of broadcasts. Although most tobacco content occurred after the 9pm watershed, it still occurred on the most popular TV channels before then. And in comparison with the previous analysis in 2010, showed that the number of one-minute intervals containing any tobacco content increased, rising from 731 to 751 in 2015. Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is banned in the UK, but tobacco imagery in TV programmes and trailers is exempt, and covered instead by media regulator, Ofcom’s, broadcasting code. This code is designed to protect children by restricting depictions of tobacco use in children’s programmes and preventing the glamorisation of smoking in programmes broadcast before 9pm. Dr Alex Barker, a senior member of the study team, said: “Audiovisual tobacco content remains common in prime time UK television programmes and is likely to be a significant driver of smoking uptake in young people. Guidelines on tobacco content need to be revised and more carefully enforced to protect children from exposure to tobacco imagery and the consequent risk of smoking initiation.” VM19 | 29