Cancer association blasts love of smoke on ‘Big Bro’

Many viewers call to complain about the constant smoke, as it misrepresents the smoking rate in the country and gives tobacco legitimacy.

Big Brother 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Big Brother 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although about 78 percent of Israelis don’t smoke, Keshet Broadcasting has a talent for finding those who do and locking them up in a house for 100 days as contestants on the top-ranking reality show Big Brother, according to an Israel Cancer Association complaint sent to Channel 2 and the chairmen of two Knesset committees.
ICA director-general Miri Ziv and information director Rivka Froelich-Zeltzer wrote on Monday to MK Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) of the Education Committee and MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) of the Economics Committee, noting that they had previously complained to Keshet about participants’ smoking in the 2008 Big Brother show, but nothing had been done.
The new show, which began last week, has more smokers than ever lighting up inside the house, with non-smokers exposed to the toxins. As the competitors for NIS 1 million prize (for the last person to be sent home) often receive a limited expense budget while in the house, ordering cigarettes comes at the expense of their food.
The ICA officials said that many viewers had called to complain about the constant smoke, as it misrepresented the smoking rate in the country and gave tobacco – which kills 10,000 Israelis annually – legitimacy, especially in the eyes of young people. This casualty figure is higher than all road accidents, suicides, murders and AIDS deaths combined, they said.
Studies have shown that seeing tobacco products and smoking in movies and TV shows encourages young people to smoke and turns occasional smokers into permanent ones.
As cigarette advertising is prohibited in the electronic media, some tobacco companies pay cinema companies to add suggestive smoking scenes to promote their products.
They called on the two committees to schedule a discussion of the matter and invite officials from Channel 2 and Keshet to appear. If the current batch of people on the show smoke, at least scenes of them smoking could be edited out, the ICA suggested.