Liverpool City Council yesterday rejected proposed amendments to its Licensing Policy which would require all new films exhibited at local cinemas and containing images of smoking to be given an automatic “18” classification.
In lobbying Councillors considering this proposal, the CEA had argued strongly that the proposed policy would have been a disproportionate measure which would result in scenes of smoking, a legal activity, being classified at a higher category than many scenes of illegal drug use, mugging, assault, robbery and even murder.
Furthermore the CEA made clear its view that the proposals would – if agreed – have resulted in significant damage to the local cinema industry in Liverpool.
Reduced attendances for Liverpool cinema businesses would have had an effect on jobs not only for cinema staff but also the local suppliers they relied on, and this at a time when local economies across the UK were already under severe pressure.
It was also highly likely that those young people who wished to see these same films without the higher restriction would have needed only to travel a short distance to Manchester or the wider North West to do so, with further impacts on the local economy.
Even if this economic impact was discounted, and the desire was to restrict the cinema audience for such films, once any film was available on DVD or to download, then the ability to restrict the type of person who saw that film would have been almost impossible to police.
Commenting on yesterday’s decision, CEA Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:
‘The CEA welcomes what we think is a sensible decision by the Licensing Committee. For the reasons they have openly acknowledged, we have always believed that the proposal put before them was inappropriate and disproportionate, and that the British Board of Film Classification already had sufficient powers to act in those extremely isolated instances where scenes might be seen to glamourise smoking.’