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Smoking on Television is Harmful to the Health of the Nation's Youth: BMA

Deirdre Barlow is obviously stressed. Who wouldn’t be with a daughter like Tracey! But is that a good enough reason to show her puffing her way through// a mountain of cigarettes three or four times a week?

Deirdre Anne Barlow (née Hunt, formerly Langton and Rachid) is a long-running character on the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. She has been played by Anne Kirkbride since 1972. Deirdre has become synonymous with a scratchy voice (caused by real-life chain smoking) and very big spectacles.

In 1993, Kirkbride was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - cancer arising from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells. It might be better for her health if she didn’t smoke.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Wales, and the risk of disease increases the earlier in life smoking begins. The prevalence of smoking among Welsh adolescents continues to rise, especially amongst teenage girls.

The percentage of 15 to 16 year old boys in Wales who smoked was 19% higher in 2004 than in 1986. This is also true for girls, with the percentage of 15 to 16 year old girls who smoked 28% higher in 2004 than in 1986.

The fact remains, that unless they stop smoking half of them will die prematurely. Someone who starts smoking aged 15 is three times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their late 20s.

Despite bans on television tobacco advertising and moves to raise the legal age of purchasing cigarettes to 18, smoking on television remains widespread.

There is evidence suggesting that television programs depicting tobacco usage may encourage smoking among adolescents. “Although bans have prevented direct tobacco advertising on television there is still widespread portrayal of smoking on television in prime-time programming, movies and music videos.

“In music videos, smokers are typically portrayed as attractive, successful, and influential a
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