TV, film smoking rules win experts' praise
Updated: 2011-02-17 08:04
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Beijing - In the country with the world's largest population of smokers, experts are asking the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to strictly enforce rules meant to encourage TV and film producers to show fewer scenes in which characters are seen smoking.
The call came after the administration issued a circular on Saturday ordering the makers of TV series and films to snub out smoking as much as possible from their future offerings.
Welcoming the circular, Xu Guihua, deputy director of the non-governmental China Association on Tobacco Control, said at a forum on Wednesday: "Because of the huge audiences that watch TV series and films, this will help with the country's battle against tobacco and smoking."
"This is particularly significant for minors, who are more likely to be influenced by such scenes," said Duan Jiali, director of the school health institute of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A study by Duan's institute found that children are much more likely to take on a tobacco habit when they regularly witness scenes in which fictional characters smoke.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's circular stipulates that TV and movie characters under the age of 18 may not be shown smoking or buying cigarettes. What's more, the characters in those productions are not to be smoking in public places where lighting up is banned.
The circular also calls on the administrations of radio, film and television series to delete unnecessary scenes involving smoking.
A 2009 survey taken by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's tobacco control office suggested that smoking was superfluous in up to 60 percent of that year's television scenes depicting characters who lit up.
To ensure a strict enforcement, Yang Jie, deputy director of the office, suggested that the rules be described in greater detail.
Despite its tougher stance, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's circular still allows characters to light up if they must do so to further the production's plot, although the scenes in which they smoke are to be kept as short as possible.
Yang said the exception opens the door to abuse.
"What exactly are such scenes and who's going be the judge?" he told China Daily. "The loopholes need to be better plugged. The authorities should enforce the rules and take real action."
China's first rules aimed at controlling the amount of smoking depicted in films and TV series were issued in 2008. But they weren't well-enforced, according to Yang.
Chen Dongdong, a Beijing-based TV producer, said she was not aware of the previous attempt at discouraging smoking on the small screen, despite her position in the industry.
"I was clearly aware that excessively violent scenes would bar my productions from appearing on prime time, because of the authority's rules," she told China Daily on Wednesday. "But I never thought that smoking scenes would one day also become a problem."
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