Smoking: Broadcasting Code - Question

– in the House of Lords at 3:22 pm on 11th October 2017.

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Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education) 3:22 pm, 11th October 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to strengthen the broadcasting code in relation to smoking on reality TV shows, particularly those aimed at young people.

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, as the independent regulator, decisions on amending the Broadcasting Code are rightly a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom takes the protection of children and young people very seriously, and that is why there are already specific restrictions on the portrayal of smoking on television.

Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

I thank the Minister for his reply. I do not know whether he is a regular watcher of “Love Island”, but the ITV website describes that programme as an,

“emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun”.

The same website says that the programme captures,

“56% share of 16-34 viewers”.

On this programme, those contestants are regularly smoking. What message does that send to young people—that I can live a glamorous life if I smoke as well? I am surprised that the Ofcom Broadcasting Code says that smoking must not be,

“glamorised in … programmes likely to be widely seen, heard or accessed by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification”.

Does the Minister think that Ofcom should take action on this matter?

Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I am not a regular watcher of “Love Island”, but I cannot help noticing that the House is unusually full today. Obviously, as I said, it is a matter for Ofcom. The Broadcasting Code is there to be regulated by Ofcom, and that is what Ofcom is there for. Any complaints about a programme will be investigated by Ofcom, and it is up to anyone who has concerns about smoking in this programme to complain to Ofcom. Incidentally, to put this into perspective, Ofcom had just under 15,000 complaints last year and 75 related to smoking on “Love Island”.