South Korea joins nations urging smokefree films/video

The South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare has found 50 percent or more of Korea's most popular TV dramas, movies and online animated shows feature tobacco imagery, Korea Times reports. The government's survey covered media releases between January 2017 and June 2018.

"Children and adolescents exposed to smoking scenes repeatedly are more likely to try smoking," a ministry official observed. "We urge entertainment content creators and producers to refrain from showing smoking in content rated for minors."

South Korea is one of 181 parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Article 13 of the FCTC calls on governments to end tobacco promotion in entertainment media. South Korea's media industry ranks among the world's largest, with an active export market in Asia.

In 2017, Korean researchers published a study of more than 700 high school students showing that exposure to onscreen smoking spiked cigarette cravings. The authors concluded: "Establishing a standard that restricts the frequency of smoking scenes in films and assigning a smoking-related screening grade to films is warranted."

South Korea joins other top-ranked film producing and consuming countries, including the United States, China, India, France, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, which have already adopted some protective policies or are considering adult ratings and other measures.

Three US Senators recently asked American-based streaming companies and traditional media companies to deliver five years' worth of tobacco content and audience-age data. The Senators also asked the companies to state their positions on a menu of practices intended to safeguard young audiences in the future.