The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puffing stars light up a storm

Their faces might light up the screen, but their actions are causing anti-smoking groups to fume. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman and Pierce Brosnan, are under fire after research showed that smoking on screen is at its highest for 50 years.

An analysis of 150 films produced between 1950 and 2002 has found that there are now about 11 depictions of smoking in every hour of the typical film.

The incidence of smoking, says the study by scientists at the University of California, has risen steadily over the past decade and is higher than the corresponding figure for the 1950s, when films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo portrayed a highly glamourised image of cigarettes. The study also found that smoking scenes now feature in children’s films.

The disclosure has infuriated anti-smoking campaigners who claim that films are encouraging the young to smoke. Some called for all films that depicted smoking to be given an 18 certificate.

Among the films analysed for the study were the James Bond film Die Another Day, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.

Stanton Glantz, a professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California, who led the research, said that the prevalence of smoking in films was allowing manufacturers to overcome the difficulties created for them by restrictions on tobacco advertising.

“Films that feature cigarettes and smoking are worth millions to the tobacco companies in terms of advertising. This is particularly true of a country like Britain where there is a strict ban on tobacco advertising,” he said.

“A dangerous habit that was once ignored by filmmakers is now more high-profile than ever. This is particularly worrying in the light of research that shows that young people are taking up smoking because of what they see on the big screen.”

As well as the films in the study, other box office hits, including Chicago, the Oscar-winning musical that starred Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger, The Hours, which starred Nicole Kidman, and Monster, with Charlize Theron, have all featured characters who smoke.

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