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Cigarettes and drugs 'star' in 14 percent of scenes in Ramadan TV series, says FTAF

Hawary Bukharest featured four and a half hours of 'unjustified' inhaling in the first half of the show in Ramadan, the anti-addiction fund says; treatment of the issue of drug abuse in Under Control earns praise

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Jul 2015
Amir Karara
Snapshot from The Alleys of Bucharest playing this Ramadan on several Egyptian and Arab TV channels
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Cigarettes and drugs featured in 14 percent of the scenes in the first half of this year’s Ramadan TV series, according to a statement issued by the social solidarity ministry's Fighting and Treating Addiction Fund (FTAF) on Wednesday.

This year's series have carried 990 scenes which depict smoking and drug consumption, lasting 27 hours and 48 minutes, the FTAF media monitor said.

The FTAF said Hawary Bucharest (The Alleys of Bucharest) series led the way among Ramadan TV series halfway through the traditional 30-day-episodes season with four hours and 30 minutes of inhalation.

The average duration of one episode in a Ramadan TV series is 40-45 minutes.

The FTAF described smoking and drug scenes in Hawary Bucharest as "unjustified" from the point of view of the storyline.

The fund, however, said drug-related scenes in Taht El-Saytara (Under Control) were dramatically appropriate, given that the series deals primarily with the addiction issue and its societal repercussions.

The FTAF praised the makers of  of Taht El-Saytara for their "realistic" depiction of drug abuse issues, citing the show's reliance on scientific expertise in the production of the script.

However, the fund said it "had reservations" about some of the scenes in Under Control which bore an "instructional nature" on ways to use drugs as well as content which seemed to provide justification for relapses.

[These scenes] could negatively affect the recovery journey for addiction patients," the fund said.

The statement praised Zehab Wa Awda (Going and Returning) and Yawmeyat Zoga Mafrousa (Diaries of a Frustrated Wife) for skipping scenes containing smoking and drug abuse all together, and Mouled W Sahbo Ghayeb (Party in the Absence of its Owner) for featuring few smoking scenes.

The Fund said these two series abided by the articles of the code of conduct of Egyptian drama-makers on how to tackle the phenomena of smoking and of addiction, and how to prevent the promotion of cigarettes.

A protocol of understanding signed last May by the Fund and the Egyptian Actors' Union had urged makers of drama works to abstain from portraying behaviour that encourages smoking and the consumption of drugs.

The World Health Organization estimates that around a quarter of Egyptian adults smoke tobacco and about 50 percent of Egyptians are exposed to second-hand smoking in their homes.

The protocol also asked show carriers to run warnings to viewers that drama works might contain scenes of smoking and drug abuse.

The FTAF and the union promised awards to dramas which discuss negative repurcussions of of smoking and drug abuse.

The media monitor said the FTAF expects the number of scenes in Ramadan TV series featuring smoking and drug abuse to increase in the second half of the month.

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