Great snakes! Tintin falls foul of anti-tobacco laws in Turkey

guardian.co.uk

TV channel fined £21,000 over cartoon scene showing characters smoking, breaching strict anti-smoking laws in Turkey

Robert Tait in Istanbul
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 February 2010 19.20 GMT

An episode of Tintin has fallen foul of anti-smoking laws in Turkey. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Features/Everett Collection / Rex Features

His do-gooder image as a scourge of ­villains has made him a mainstay of ­children’s entertainment the world over for more than 80 years.

But now Tintin, the evergreen fictional detective created by the Belgian writer Hergé, has found himself in trouble after an episode in the long-running cartoon series depicted him fighting hardened criminals who were smoking, in contravention of Turkey’s tough anti-tobacco laws.

The country’s broadcasting watchdog, RTUK, slapped a £21,000 fine on the private TV8 channel after ruling that Tintin Against the Chicago Mafia broke legislation banning broadcasters from promoting tobacco. Tintin single-handedly brings down the leaders of the 1930s Chicago mob, but the triumph of good against evil cut no ice with Turkish regulators.

Legislation introduced last year obliges Turkish broadcasters to obscure smoking scenes. Films – including famous Hollywood blockbusters – are screened with cigarettes concealed behind a mist, although it is often clear that the characters are smoking. Some broadcasters have appealed against fines on the basis that the rules should not apply to scenes filmed before the legislation was enacted.

The law exposes Tintin cartoons to further possible fines, especially over the detective’s sidekick Captain Haddock, who famously smokes a pipe. One episode features Professor Hector Alembick, who is depicted as a chain-smoker.

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