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Smoking on screen: Forest condemns "attack on artistic freedom"

Sun 15th April, 2018

Attempts to reduce the amount of smoking on TV and in films would be a “gross attack on artistic freedom” and a “worrying attempt to rewrite history”, says Forest.

According to a submission to the Select Committee on Science and Technology, ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies say that smoking on TV and in films encourages children to start smoking.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “Films and television should reflect the world as it was and is, not as prohibitionists would like it to be.

“Directors must be allowed to portray characters as they see fit, not according to regulations imposed on them by government and unelected NGOs.

“Many Oscar-listed films that contain smoking, like ‘Darkest Hour’, are set in a period of history when a large majority of adults smoked. Even today one in six adults smoke.

“Prohibiting or excessively restricting the depiction of smoking would be a gross attack on artistic freedom and a worrying attempt to rewrite history.”

He added: “It’s ludicrous to suggest there is a causal link between smoking on screen and children taking up smoking.

“To put this in perspective, smoking rates among young people in the UK are at their lowest ever level.

“The anti-smoking industry is manufacturing a sense of alarm that is out of all proportion to reality.”

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