Finland to screen movie content

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[helsinki, finland] Finland's government, concerned about product placement, is monitoring movies for the presence of tobacco and alcohol, and TV shows could follow. Tobacco and alcohol ads were banned in Finland in 1979. The crusade is led by STTV, Finland's National Product Control Agency for Welfare and Health, which has just sent an official reprimand to the producers of the Finnish action movie "Raid," due to open Feb. 6. "We work on the basis that prevention is better than cure. If movies or TV shows create scenes and environments where drink and cigarettes are seen as being cool by children and teenagers, and if the money that is used to make movies and TV shows that includes such brand placement is coming from tobacco groups, we want to know about it," said STTV's administrative director, Ilkka Suojasalmi. STTV officials demanded that the movie's production company, Kinoproduction, account for the presence of products like Gitanes cigarettes and Jim Beam whiskey. "We were put through the grinder. STTV investigators demanded that we not [only] explain why alcohol and cigarettes were used in these scenes but also if the movie was backed by tobacco and drinks companies," said Claes Olsson, the movie's producer. "If this is going to be the norm in Finland, and I believe that this is the way legislation is moving, then it would prohibit most movies which come out of Hollywood and Europe from screening in cinemas or airing on Finnish television. We regard ourselves as being fortunate that the movie was not pulled from release by STTV."
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