Media centre

No place for tobacco on the big screen nor on the catwalk

As countries work on writing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) into their national legislation, World Health Organization (WHO) calls on the world of film and fashion to stop glamourizing tobacco. The treaty, adopted unanimously last week by the Member States of WHO, calls for a halt to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. World No Tobacco Day celebrations, to be held on 31 May 2003, will focus on the role of the fashion and film industries in fostering a worldwide epidemic and urge them to stop being used as vehicles of the death and disease that tobacco brings. The world of film and fashion cannot be accused of causing cancer. But they should not promote a product that does, says WHO.

“I applaud those in the world of film of fashion who take the courageous step of walking away from tobacco” said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO’s Director-General. “I applaud countries for standing in unison against a menace that kills 4.9 million people every year and threatens our future generations,” she added.

Film and fashion are critical in shaping and reinforcing popular norms of beauty, success and fun. They help craft the dreams and fantasies of the young and old. Given their huge potential for influencing the public—especially young people—the film and fashion industries are fertile ground for tobacco industry marketing tactics. Between 1988 and 1997, 85% of the top 25 Hollywood films dramatized tobacco use. Eight out of the ten highest earning Hollywood films in 1999-2000, rated for viewers 13 years of age and above, feature smoking, according to research carried out by the Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, USA, recently named as a WHO Collaborating Centre on Tobacco Control Policy Development.

“We know that young people who see more tobacco use on the screen are much more likely to try smoking. Hollywood knows it and the tobacco companies know it. The time has come to put an end to it,” said Dr Derek Yach, Executive Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO. “This means that artists and film-makers should stop identifying tobacco brands on screen and certify that they received no payoffs or compensation from tobacco companies” he adds.

World No Tobacco Day demonstrations in the world’s biggest film & fashion capitals—Bollywood, home of the world’s largest film industry, based in Mumbai, India, and Hollywood, the US movie capital—will highlight how the film and fashion industries are used to promote tobacco. Across Italy, a garment bearing the signature of 35 Italian designers will help spread the message of how film and fashion can help prevent the death and disease caused by tobacco.

The year’s World No Tobacco Day is the first international manifestation of the global resolve to transform the FCTC, the world’s first international treaty for public health, into life-saving measures in countries. “Anyone responsible for communicating this epidemic –by advertising, subsidizing or glamorizing tobacco—will now have to answer to 192 countries and the generations that follow,” said Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Project Manager, Tobacco Free Initiative.

For more information on Tobacco Free Film, Tobacco Free Fashion

For further reading on Smoke Free Movies

For more information on Bollywood (India) event, contact Ms Chitra Subramaniam, World Health Organization, tel. 41 79 446 3047. For more information on Smoke Free Movies and the Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education, contact Dr Stanton Glantz, University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre,, tel. 1 415 476-3893

For more information on World No Tobacco Day events in Italy, contact Ms Cristiana Salvi, WHO Regional Office for Europe, tel. 39 06 487 7543 or 39 348 019 2305,

For other questions, please contact Helen Green, World Health Organization, Geneva, tel. 41 79 475 5572,