New Zealand researchers are calling for TV shows that feature smoking scenes to be rated R.
A University of Otago study found almost a third of shows on prime-time free-to-air television featured tobacco imagery and over 80 per cent of those showed smoking in a neutral or positive light.
While the total number of scenes featuring tobacco use had decreased when compared to a study in 2004, there had been little change.
The research was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health as the Government unveiled plans to require branding and marketing to be removed from cigarette packages and an announcement of a ten per cent hike in the tax on tobacco in the Budget.
Associate Professor George Thomson of the University of Otago Department of Public Health said the R rating for the television shows would be in the interest of health.
"Television remains a powerful influence for normalisation, and having tobacco and smoking images on it increase the risk that smoking will remain a 'normal' activity.
"The removal or countering of smoking and tobacco images in the media is a major neglected area for tobacco control, and a tobacco and smoking R rating appears to be a practical and effective way of intervening for health."