|Smoking cigarette 370.(Photo by: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)|
Activists protest ‘hidden cigarette ads’ on TV show
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Petitioners say there is no coincidence that only 20.6% of the public smokes yet 80% of participants do so on show.
The Israel Cancer Association and smoking prevention lawyer Amos Hausner have
asked the High Court of Justice to bar smoking both inside and outside the villa
in Neveh Ilan where the Big Brother reality show will begin filming its fifth
season in a few months.
Justice Salim Joubran, who received the petition,
asked the Second Channel Authority that is responsible for programming on
Channel 2 and the Keshet TV company that owns the concession and is in charge of
the show, to respond within 60 days.
Hausner, chairman of the Israel
Council for the Prevention of Smoking, and his lawyer colleague Nir Ofer
presented the petition on behalf of the ICA and the voluntary organization Avir
Naki (Clean Air). The Health Ministry and the Communications Ministry were also
listed as respondents to the petition.
The petitioners argued that as the
villa is a workplace where some two dozen strangers live for several months, cut
off from the outside world, and smoking by about 80 percent of the residents
violates laws prohibiting smoking in public places.
persuaded the Supreme Court sitting as the court of civil appeals to prohibit
actors on theater stages from smoking as part of their roles.
petitioners said that the presentation of the residents smoking in the Big
Brother house is evidently deliberate. and may constitute hidden and indirect
advertising of cigarettes. The Second Channel Authority was asked to request
from Keshet all the contracts it signed with the producers and the promoters of
the international “Big Brother” concept. so it could be determined whether
smoking was listed as one of the components of the show. The authority was also
required to obtain and publish the criteria according to which participants are
It is unlawful to praise smoking in any manner in any method of
advertising to encourage young people (the majority of Big Brother viewers) to
smoke, and to give pro-smoking messages as hidden advertising, the lawyers
As only 20.6% of the general Israeli public smoke, the fact that
80% of the residents smoked regularly in the villa over the past four seasons
the show has been broadcast suggested it was not a coincidence, the lawyers
maintained, with smoking presented as a positive matter. Since the weekly
budgets of the residents are rationed, they are required to choose between food
and cigarettes, which results in endless discussions over smoking and raises the
rating of the show.
On numerous occasions, the petitioners had asked the
Second Channel Authority to stop smoking on the show but they received no
Hausner said that he had studied the reactions to Big Brother
in some of the scores of other countries where the show is broadcast. In many of
these, the residents of the villa are heavy smokers.
This was true in
Britain, where heavy public criticism forced the production company to bar
smoking inside the house, but not outside as requested in Israel.
said that according to materials cited in the application to the court,
residents are told by Keshet never to discuss hard or soft drugs, but they never
censor talk about smoking. “Until the High Court of Justice case is settled, we
want anti-smoking advertising to be financed by Keshet to balance it out,”