Portrayal of Smoking in the Arts by Sponsored Organisations


Healthway was established to fund activities related to the promotion of good health in general, with a particular emphasis on young people; to support sporting and arts activities which encourage healthy lifestyles and advance health promotion programs; to provide grants to organisations engaged in health promotion programs; and to fund research relevant to health promotion. Since its creation, and including in its most recent Strategic Plan Active Healthy People: 2018-2023, Healthway has had a priority focus on the reduction of smoking and working towards a smoke-free WA.

The objectives of the Healthway sponsorship program are:

  • To encourage healthy lifestyles through the effective promotion of health messages relating to Healthway priority areas;
  • To reduce, where ever possible, the promotion of unhealthy messages or brands which undermine Healthway objectives;
  • To facilitate structural and policy change within organisations and venues to create healthy environments; and
  • To increase opportunities for priority populations to participate in healthy activities.

In the period since Healthway first introduced a policy on smoking on stage, a number of studies have been published in relation to smoking in movies. There is a consistent chain of evidence to support the view that smoking in movies leads adolescents to hold more pro-tobacco attitudes and beliefs. (Charlesworth A, & Glantz SA, 2005). While the published research has focused on movies as opposed to live performances, the impact is generally held to be through normalising smoking, the potential to downplay the negative health effects, and encouraging more tolerant or neutral attitudes among non-smokers. The relevance of the research in the context of theatre and live performance is not known. However in the context of the known research findings, Healthway’s priority focus areas and the objectives of sponsorship, a precautionary approach is taken by Healthway.


The portrayal of smoking in arts productions as normal, acceptable or fashionable is inconsistent with the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the functions of Healthway.


  1. Healthway’s Application for Sponsorship form, and Contract Conditions, require that applicants and sponsored organisations confirm that productions or activities funded by Healthway will not depict smoking for the duration of the proposed agreement
  2. Healthway’s assessment process will consider the potential for the portrayal of smoking in the organisation’s performances or productions outside of the proposed agreement to impact on health promotion outcomes, and will apply a risk assessment approach in consultation with the organisation.
  3. Organisations seeking a variation to point 1. must:

A. Provide evidence for Healthway’s consideration, that the portrayal of smoking:

  • is essential to the performance and/or its historical setting; and
  • does not glamorise the behaviour.

B. Where a variation is sought part-way through an existing contract, provide evidence that it could not reasonably have been aware of, or controlled, the content of the new performances at the time of the contract being signed, the new performance(s) meet(s) the criteria in point A. above, and will not be promoted or take place until Healthway has made a decision on the matter.


Last modified: 2018-11-29