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Thursday, 18 August 2011

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Government Gazette

New TV guidelines on tobacco, alcohol scenes:

Mosaics out, warning messages a must

*Broadcasters required to include health warning messages

*Tobacco, alcohol cause for loss of over 40,000 lives yearly

Authorities are set to issue new regulations which allow television broadcasters to do away with mosaics or blurred images masking tobacco and alcohol scenes in their programmes but which require them to carry messages warning of the dangers and ill-effects of tobacco and alcohol when such programmes are aired.

Broadcasters would be required to run health and other warning messages or images which show the illnesses, suffering, financial losses etc. due to tobacco and alcohol use at the bottom during the entire length of such scenes from September 1.

“This mosaic mechanism has not been authorized by us. It has only brought the wrath of the public on the authorities,” National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) chief Prof Carlo Fonseka said. Prof Fonseka said that a series of new guidelines to prevent encouragement of tobacco and alcohol use in the entertainment media would come into effect from next month.

These guidelines would include the non-inclusion of scenes which encourage tobacco and alcohol use, in future productions.

NATA would also encourage producers to include scenes depicting the negative aspects of smoking and alcohol use.

“Through depiction of alcohol and tobacco use in films and tele-dramas, the entertainment media violates the provisions of the NATA Act,” Prof Fonseka added.

NATA would also issue guidelines which would prevent celebrities being exploited by the industry for advertisements which would encourage tobacco and alcohol use.

Prof Fonseka speaking during a media awareness campaign organized by the Jeevaka Foundation on tobacco control, said that there was evidence that the modes of entertainment such as films, tele-dramas and music greatly impact on people’s day-to-day attitudinal behaviours.

He said that the famous medical journal titled Pediatrics in 2002 revealed that 52 percent of non-smoking parents’ children had been initiated to smoking by following actors and actresses smoking in films.

Another medical journal titled Lancert in 2003 revealed that the propensity of children watching television for more than five hours is six times more than the children watching TV less than two hours.

Similarly, according to information that appeared in 2005 in Pediatrics, a study conducted using 6,522 youths randomly chosen, revealed that they were initiated into smoking by watching such scenes in films.

In Sri Lanka both tobacco and alcohol are responsible for the loss of over 40,000 lives yearly. With the enactment of the National Alcohol and Tobacco Act No. 27, any form of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco and alcohol products was banned. However using subtle strategies the two industries are trying to creep through the law, Prof. Fonseka said.

 

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