The National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking (CNPT), which includes 30 scientific organizations from the health sector is calling on the film industry, as well as the Spanish government, to join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) initiative to limit the appearance of smoking in films and television series.
The CNPT announced its petition on Thursday, two days before the annual Goya awards; Spain’s version of the Oscars.
En el cine español hay 4 veces más escenas de tabaco que en el de Hollywood— CNPT (@CNPT_E) February 4, 2016
Ante la entrega de los premios Goya... https://t.co/muqXXsnm8T
"Spanish cinema has four times as many smoking scenes as Hollywood."
Spanish cinema features four times more scenes that include smoking than Hollywood films, according to the CNPT.
"The mosquito that has transmitted the disease of smoking is advertising, which although banned by law, is still practiced openly in films and on television," the committee said in a statement released on Thursday.
"The more scenes featuring smoking young people watch, the greater the risk of experimenting for the first time, because young people get the idea that it is normal to smoke."
The WHO on Monday called for its member countries to establish a classification system in which films that feature smoking are classed as "adult-only" - thus banning children from watching any films in which a character smokes.
Children’s films that would be banned if such a ban took place would include Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians and Alice in Wonderland - which all feature characters that light up during the course of the film.
The WHO’s survey highlights that in 2014, 44 percent of Hollywood films, and 36 percent of children’s films, included smoking.
According to the CNPT these figures amplified in Spain, where 80 percent of films and 75 percent of television series feature smoking.
Another difference between US and Spanish films, according to the CNPT, is that smoking characters in Spain are often painted as "desirable and attractive", which is likely to encourage young viewers to take up the habit.