Shows rapped over tobacco branding

Tags: Smoking

Popular soap Coronation Street has been rapped by researchers for showing too much cigarette branding.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham and King's College London said that many fictional TV shows featured "unnecessary" cigarette branding of "questionable legality", but it was "particularly common" in the ITV soap Coronation Street.

Tighter regulations on television programmes with "gratuitous depictions of tobacco" have been called for by the researchers, who found that one in eight programmes show people smoking, and 34% show some kind of content relating to tobacco products. The authors reiterated that smoking on television is a common trigger for children's smoking experimentation and uptake, which of course can lead to lung cancer in later life.

In the research, published in Tobacco Control, the extent to which tobacco content occurs in prime time television was measured by assessing BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 programmes between 6pm and 10pm, for three separate weeks in 2010. The findings were that 73 of the 613 programmes in that period showed actual tobacco use, while 210 contained tobacco content, such as people smoking, implied smoking, tobacco paraphernalia and branding. Clear and unambiguous tobacco branding was only seen in 18 shows, but was "particularly common" in Coronation Street, appearing in six episodes.  

TV shows can still show smoking imagery for artistic or editorial purposes, though tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship is banned in the UK. The research authors concluded that "Tobacco content remains present in a third of all primetime free-to-air television programmes broadcast in the UK."

Copyright Press Association 2013

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