A group of 40 Chinese film and TV actors have endorsed a move to ban scenes featuring smoking and tobacco products from film and TV programs

The anti-smoking campaign, which would mean any scenes including tobacco consumption would have to be cleared, is being led by the non-governmental Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) and governmental Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Tobacco Control Office.

It has been launched due to fears about young people’s heath. CATC’s research shows that about one third to half of the smoking youth in China began smoking after seeing their idols smoking in films or on TV.  The more smoking scenes showed in a program, young people feel more motivated and encouraged to smoke, the research said.

Another recent study conducted by the two organisations shows that among the top 70 films shown in 2008 and 2009, 40 films have smoking scenes. Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled contains the longest smoking scenes among the 40 films, with 14.3 minutes, nearly 11.8% of the film’s running time.

It is estimated that there are 350 million smokers, 540 million second-hand smokers and 15 million youth smokers in China.  Each year around 1 million people in the country died of tobacco-related diseases.

The campaign calls for the authority to strengthen the censorship of smoking scenes and asks actors and celebrities to reject smoking scenes on film or TV.

At present, China’s Regulation on Film Management and Script Registration stipulates that scenes excessively showing bad habits such as alcoholism and smoking should be deleted or edited.