Altering cartoons not a complete answer to curbing smoking among young people, professor says

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More than 1,500 classic cartoons from the Hanna-Barbera library - including "Tom and Jerry," "The Flintstones," and "Scooby-Doo" - are being re-edited to remove scenes that glamorize smoking, following a complaint to a British media regulator. A professor of addictions at the University of North Texas says editing the cartoons is not going to hurt efforts to discourage smoking among young people, but probably won't help a lot.

Dr. James Quinn, who directs the university's academic program in addictions, says he's not even sure that the cartoons reach a large audience of children in Britain, the United States and other industrialized nations.

"The advantage of editing these cartoons is in the developing world, where smoking is far more prevalent and television programming relies on older shows," he says.

Quinn says that exposure to smoking by siblings or parents will influence whether or not children will begin smoking as teens or adults more than exposure to smoking via the media. He says as with any addictive behavior, emotional health is a major factor in the decision to smoke or not smoke.

"If people are not emotionally healthy, they become more susceptible to a chemical solution. They need to recognize and be able to deal with their emotions," Quinn says.

He points out that tobacco is often cited as a "gateway" that leads to other addictive behaviors.

"So much of what we are doing in the ‘war on drugs' is symbolic, rather than practical," he says. "Ideally, we should be going after the source and regulate tobacco as a drug."

Even as Hanna-Barbera is altering the cartoons, Quinn cautions about making broad-brush alterations, and says the original, unaltered cartoons should be preserved as historical and cultural artifacts.

"In making these changes, we don't want to lose the artistic integrity of the cartoons. Nobody is suggesting removing the cigarettes from Humphrey Bogart in ‘Casablanca' or editing out former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's cigar," he says.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Latest News

Monday, July 21, 2014

New UNT class explores dynamics of working with family.

Lynn Seaton
Monday, July 21, 2014

UNT College of Music jazz bass professor Lynn Seaton has been named a 2014-15 Fulbright Scholar and will depart in August for Latvia, where he will teach for the fall 2014 semester.

Monday, July 21, 2014

While the most elite college and university baseball players in the U.S. head to Omaha every summer for the College World Series, some of the most accomplished Hispanic high school seniors in the U.S. play their own series every summer -- the Collegiate World Series offered by the National Hispanic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Texas.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trace the steps of Charles Dickens' famous characters, uncover clues about notorious crimes and explore the spookiest spots of London and Paris in three new trips offered through the University of North Texas' Travel-Learn program, designed to blend learning with leisure travel.

Aston Thompson
Thursday, July 17, 2014

A UNT College of Education student and a recent graduate earned national recognition from Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.