12:11 25 June 2009
Cartoon films featuring Popeye the Sailor Man smoking his pipe could be given an 18 certificate.
NHS managers at Liverpool's Primary Care Trust have called for action fearing that smoking seen in films, including cartoons, may promote bad smoking habits among children.
A Trust spokesman said: "If a new film is produced with a character who smokes, we would classify it as an 18.
"We would request all films featuring smoking be classified in this way unless it was depicting the harmful effect on health.
Other cartoon favourites including Bugs Bunny and Herman the smoking baby from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' could also end up adult-rated if they are seen smoking in any new films.
Liberal Democrat councillor, Paula Keaveney, who is the executive member for ethical governance, said although she fully supports the smoking ban, there was "no rational argument" that youngsters are likely to be influenced by smoking seen in films.
She said: "It strikes me this is just interfering with artistic product and censorship and it doesn't strike me that it will have the desired effect. I haven't taken to the hills and become a revolutionary since I saw the film about Che Guevara."
Popeye was originally created by Elzie Crisler Segar and first appeared in comic strip Thimble Theatre in 1929.
It went on to become a popular cartoon from the 30s and was even made into a motion picture starring Robin Williams in the 80s
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