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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 250

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 14 March 2006:

With reference to the article ‘Exposure to movie smoking: Its relation to smoking initiation among US adolescents’, in Paediatrics, Volume 116(5), pp 1183-1191, which found that exposure to smoking in movies was a primary risk factor for smoking initiation in adolescents:

(1)   Has any comparable Australian research been conducted that examines the relationship between exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation in Australian young people; if so, what are the findings of this research.

(2)   Has the Government funded any research into this issue; if so, what are the details of this funding and research; if not, why not.

(3)   Does the Government agree that exposure of young people to smoking in movies increases the likelihood that young people will commence smoking.

(4)   What initiatives has the Government put in place to combat the effect of exposure of young people to smoking in movies.

(5)   Has the Government investigated any of the following evidence-based approaches to reducing the impact of smoking in movies on young people:

(a)   applying the ‘R’ rating to any film that shows tobacco use;

(b)   showing anti-smoking ads or public service announcements prior to movies with smoking;

(c)   requiring movie producers to post a certificate in the credits at the end of the movie declaring that no-one on the production received anything of value (money, free cigarettes or other gifts, free publicity, interest-free loans, or anything else) from anyone in exchange for using or displaying tobacco; or

(d)   banning tobacco brand identification and the presence of tobacco brand imagery (such as billboards) in the background of any movie scene.

(6)   Does the Government support the development of an industry code of conduct for the depiction of smoking in films.

Senator Santoro (Minister for Ageing) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   and (2) The Australian Government sponsored a study in 2001/2002 titled ‘Incidental Smoking in the Media’. This study identified the frequency and characteristics of smoking incidence in the media, including print media, internet, movies and television. The media samples investigated were those identified as popular with the 18 - 30 years age group. The full report on this study can be found at .

(3)   The study referred to (‘Exposure to movie smoking: Its relation to smoking initiation among US adolescents’), points to smoking in movies being a risk factor for smoking initiation among young people.

(4)   In 2005, the Australian Government commissioned research to undertake an analytical literature review and qualitative-based research on youth smoking behaviours and attitudes. The research targeted young people aged 12-24 years. The behavioural research will assist in better understanding the processes of tobacco uptake, addiction and cessation among young people. The results of the research can be used by all governments to assist in the development of improved policy frameworks for appropriate youth interventions in overall tobacco control strategies. The Australian Government announced in the 2005-06 budget that $25 million over four years would be allocated to a National Tobacco Campaign focusing on young people. The government is aiming to reduce the number of young people taking up smoking and to assist those already smoking to quit. From 1 March 2006, all tobacco products imported and manufactured for retail in Australia are required to bear new graphic health warnings and explanatory messages, which provide strong and confronting messages to smokers about the harmful health consequences of smoking tobacco products. The Australian Government also developed an advertising campaign to support its introduction with a particular emphasis on youth.

(5)   The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing has not investigated the options referred to in 5(a), (b), (c) or (d).

(6)   While the Australian film industry is required to comply with Australian regulatory requirements, the majority of films are made overseas, making this an international issue. Australia supports international endeavours in tobacco control as a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and would consider any proposals in that context.