Kiwi TV shows under fire for tobacco use

  • 01/06/2016
Kiwi TV shows under fire for tobacco use

A health expert believes people trying to quit smoking are being held back by its portrayal on screen.

Health experts are urging the Government to consider coming down harder on television shows portraying smoking.

Researchers say an R-rating system should be introduced to stop tobacco use being so dominant in New Zealand television shows.

Associate Professor Nick Wilson says it is bad news for those trying to kick the habit.

"There are a lot of people out there who are struggling with staying quit," he says. "They recently quit cigarettes and to really reduce their risk of a relapse, it's important that they're just not exposed to a lot of smoking.

Nine of the scenes analysed by researchers involved people under the age of 18 -- up from three in 2004.

The research shows about a third of New Zealand prime-time television shows featured tobacco imagery, mostly in a positive light.

Mr Wilson says an R-rating system holds the key.

"Maybe just gratuitous tobacco use, or by the main characters -- James Bond hasn't smoked since 2002."

The call comes just a day after the Government announced plans to roll out plain packaging.

Mr Wilson says we need to get to grips with the high level of tobacco in the media.

"Especially since taxpayers are funding New Zealand on Air, and it is producing programmes that sometimes have a lot of tobacco content."

The study looked at a week's worth of prime-time New Zealand television programmes.