Over the course of five years between 2017 and 2021, TV shows have been monitored closely by eagle-eyed viewers who have complained to Ofcom about their ‘excessive’ use of drugs, smoking and alcohol on and off screen.
A collated data report reveals the five most complained-about TV programmes on British TV in the last year.
Celebrity Big Brother comes in fifth with a total of 21 complaints, This Morning comes in fourth with 25 complaints, the third highest is Emmerdale with 52, second is Love Island with 73 and the TV programme with the highest number of complaints is Coronation Street with 310.
Figures reported by Vape Club, a group of smoking experts who specialise in the cessation of smoking as part of their ‘Smokefree by 2030’ campaign, reveals how much pre-watershed TV exposes children to ‘bad habits’.
Dan Marchant, Vape Club smoking cessation expert, said: “TV producers need to be responsible when considering whether characters should be depicted smoking, drinking or using drugs. Is it integral to the character?
“In previous years, everyone from detectives and spies to gangsters and soap opera bad boys would be seen smoking, which went a long way towards glamourising the habit.
“But as fewer and fewer people smoke in society, we’re finding that stereotype seems more out of touch.”
The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) group found that 68 per cent of 11-15 year olds and 77 per cent of 16-18 year olds have seen smoking on TV.
The National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have both conducted studies which show links between the viewing of smoking and young people taking up smoking.
“I don’t believe vaping should be shown on screen either, since it’s a smoking cessation method for adults, and equally should not be glamourised in any way. But I do believe it’s vital that children and young people are exposed to less smoking on TV, particularly in pre-watershed programming,” Dan added.