October 2, 2016

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

WHO spotlights films as “cross-border tobacco promotion”

Every two years, 180 nations meet for the Conference of the Parties (COP) to review progress and problems in implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and develop new guidelines and protocols.
Implementing guidelines for FCTC Article 13 (Advertising and Promotion) consider smoking in movies —paid-for or not — to be a form of tobacco promotion that needs to be controlled. In preparation for the COP this November in Delhi, India, the Convention Secretariat prepared a report, Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship: Depiction of tobacco in entertainment media, to guide discussion of this issue.  The report notes that

…while the implementation of comprehensive TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship] bans is increasing among Parties, national regulators are still struggling to address the use of entertainment media as a means of cross-border advertising and promotion which benefits the tobacco industry, to circumvent national TAPS bans. For example, of the top 75 box office films worldwide each year between 2010 and 2014, 97% were produced or co-produced in the United States, a non-Party to the Convention.

It continues:

The marketing of tobacco in films, particularly those originating in countries with the most active film industries, remains very common and continues to promote smoking. This includes films rated as suitable for children and adolescents. When regulating the entertainment media, Parties should be mindful of its cross-border nature and implement evidence-based measures. Considering that entertainment media is also produced from non-Parties [i.e., the United States] and made available in Parties with a weak regulatory framework, international cooperation is needed.

The report ends by noting, “Finally, with the advent of new entertainment media, the strengthening of national legislation and regulation of cross-border aspects of TAPS requires greater attention from the Parties, and to prompt additional work as was foreseen at the advent of the WHO FCTC.”
What this rather bland diplomacy-speak means is that countries need to strength their laws on smoking and other tobacco promotions in movies. As US media companies look abroad for more of their profits, implementing these rules outside the US will further motivate Hollywood to get smoking out of the movies kids see here.
This item is cross-posted from the Smoke Free Movies blog at https://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/blog/who-spotlights-films-%E2%80%9Ccros...

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