D'oh! Simpsons may promote smoking: Australian researcher

June 1, 2009

Long-running US cartoon show "The Simpsons" may inadvertently promote smoking with its frequent depictions of the habit and references to cigarettes, Australian research has found.

While may be responsible for Krusty the Clown's heart condition and sisters Patty and Selma's raspy voices, the show may promote simply by showing it in so many episodes, the research concluded.

University of Sydney public health specialist Guy Eslick examined instances of smoking in the first 18 seasons of the show about the dysfunctional family from Springfield, trawling through some 400 episodes in all.

He found that smoking was depicted 795 times over the 18-season period, featuring in a negative context 35 percent of the time, positive two percent and neutral 63 percent.

Most of the time, 63 percent, the characters shown smoking were adults, although and teenagers featured in eight percent of references, with the rest made up of nicotine-addicted animals.

Eslick said cartoon characters had been shown to be effective tools in marketing to children, citing the long-running Joe Camel campaign in the United States.

He said research had also shown that the more children were exposed to cigarettes in movies and on television, the more likely they were to take up the habit.

"In conclusion, it is clear that smoking is a frequent event on The Simpsons television show, and that even instances of smoking being reflected in a negative way, particularly among child and characters, could have an impact in prompting children to smoke cigarettes," Eslick concluded.

The research was published in the Medical Journal of Australia Monday.

(c) 2009 AFP

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3 comments

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LuckyBrandon
4 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2009
dont go tarnishing the simpsons now damnit. I've been watching that show since like 8 years old and i intend on watching it until I'm 80.
ET3D
5 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2009
I find it fascinating that the researcher sat through the 18 seasons counting smoking references. I guess he either really wanted to catch up on the series, or it was a bet of some kind with his fellows.
Gammakozy
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2009
D'o alright. So that is how Obama picked up his habit. Since so many people seem to idolize him the next study should look at what effect his smoking habit is having. It seems logical that those who admire him and believe in him would be far more likely to emulate him than mere Simpsons characters.

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