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WHO Calls for Smoking Ban in Films

FILE - A man and child walk past a billboard showing Bollywood star Bachchan smoking in one of his films, in Bombay, India.

The World Health Organization is calling on movie producers to ban smoking scenes from their films to protect children from becoming addicted to this lethal product.

James Bond, known by his code number of 007, may have a “license to kill.” But, the World Health Organization finds the glamorous portrayal of smoking in Bond films and thousands of others around the world is essentially a license to kill young people.

It says it has the statistics to prove it.

WHO Tobacco-Free Initiative Program Manager Armando Peruga says studies in the United States show on-screen smoking accounts for 37 percent of all new adolescent smokers.

“The Center for Disease Control estimated that exposure to on-screen smoking alone would recruit more than six million new young smokers, and our study was done in 2014, of which of the six million the CDC estimated that two million of them would ultimately die from tobacco induced diseases," said Peruga.

Peruga says surveys show smoking scenes appear in Hollywood and Bollywood movies, as well as in top-grossing films produced in six European countries and in Latin America.

He notes the incidence of smoking in movies went down in the first decade of this century, but starting in 2013 and 2014 tobacco use in films has been on the increase.

“WHO is concerned that the tobacco industry is using the film and entertainment products as the last frontier to promote their products," he said.

The World Health Organization says the most effective way of protecting children and adolescents from becoming addicted to tobacco is to give an adult rating to movies that contain smoking.

It says strong anti-smoking advertisements should be required showing before the start of films, TV or online programs containing tobacco products.