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Despite regulations and rules, domestic movies and TV series are still flooded with smoking-related scenes that could have a negative impact on the public, particularly the young, according to an annual review of smoking scenes in films and television series.
The review by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control released on Wednesday said that compared with 2010, the number and length of smoking scenes in movies last year have surged.
Among 40 domestically produced movies shown last year, 28 had smoking scenes, according to the review.
Each movie averaged more than 17 such scenes and each smoking scene lasted nearly 2.5 minutes on average.
Notably, 12 movies, mainly romance and comedies, had no smoking at all.
The Piano in a Factory was given the "dirty ashtray award".
In the 107-minute movie, 95 scenes had smoking, lasting for 28.3 minutes altogether, according to the review.
Of the 30 TV series reviewed, 29 had smoking scenes. The 1,539 scenes lasted more than 135 minutes.
Each TV soap opera averaged 51 such scenes lasting 4.5 minutes, the review said.
"Smoking scenes in popular movies and TV series had a causal relation with youths beginning to smoke, so they should be better regulated," said Xu Guihua, executive vice-president of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.
Huang Jiefu, vice-minister of health and head of the association, said movies and TV series should convey good and healthy lifestyles to the public.
However, "some movies and TV episodes showed the smoking scenes of many great figures like State leaders," he said.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in February 2011 ordered that film and TV series makers restrict smoking scenes and ban shots showing tobacco brands or minors in scenes with others lighting up.
"That's not well implemented," Xu said.
The more young people see such scenes the more likely they are to start smoking, warned Xu.
A previous survey conducted by the association found that nearly one of four students aged between 12 and 14 had tried smoking.
Nearly 16 percent of middle school students light a cigarette regularly, it said.
"Chinese teenagers appeared to start smoking at a younger age than before and smoking scenes in movies and TV soaps surely play a role," Xu noted.
She urged movie and TV series producers to raise anti-smoking awareness and abide by regulations.
China has more than 300 million smokers on the mainland and at least 1.2 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year, accounting for one-fifth of the world's total, statistics from the World Health Organization showed.
Also, 740 million suffer from passive smoking, nearly 49 percent of whom are aged 15 to 19 years old.
(China Daily 06/28/2012 page7)