People are furious with Love Island, but not for the reason you’d expect

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Kayleigh Dray
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It seems as if the nation has been struck down with a severe case of Love Island fever: everywhere we look on social media, people are airing their feelings about the dating show – even more so now they know that being a Love Island fan is proof (allegedly) of superior intelligence.

But, while most people are engaging in thoughtful debates about Gabby and Camilla and the like, others are busy filing off complaints to Ofcom about the show.

So what’s gotten everyone so riled up?

According to the BBC, Ofcom has attracted 46 complains about the 2017 series of the show so far – and this is in spite of the fact that it airs after the watershed.

A few of these complaints focused, somewhat predictably, on the promotion of “sexual material and promiscuity”.

But the majority of them were from viewers who were seriously upset about all of the smoking they’d witnessed on the show.

Butters, for those of you who aren’t too sure, means “ugly”. We checked.

There’s no denying that there have been enormous changes in public attitudes towards smoking over the last few decases.

In 1965, Britain banned television advertising of cigarettes – and, in 1991, an EU directive outlawed the advertising of any tobacco products, including cigars and loose tobacco, on television.

And, 10 years ago, cigarettes were banished from all UK pubs, clubs, bars, and restaurants. As a result, there are far fewer people buying cigarettes in 2017: Cancer Research UK recently revealed that there are 1.9 million fewer smokers in Britain compared to when the smoking ban was introduced in 2007. Smoking rates, similarly, are now the lowest ever recorded.

Speaking on behalf of the charity, Sir Harpal Kumar said: “The impact on public health is huge. It’s rewarding to know that this effort will go on to have a great impact on the health of future generations.

“As well as protecting people from the deadly effects of passive smoking, we’ve also seen big changes in public attitudes towards smoking. It’s now far less socially acceptable and we hope this means fewer young people will fall into such a potentially lethal addiction.”

Kumar added, though, that “the job is far from done”.

“We still have more than eight million smokers in Britain and tens of thousands of children taking up the deadly addiction every year,” he said.

But would banning cigarettes from all television shows help to achieve this?

Well, a recent study has claimed that teenagers are far more likely to take up smoking if they watch films in which the characters smoke. As a result, health professionals have called to increase the BBFC age classification for films featuring scenes of smoking.

Dr Andrea Waylen, who led the study at the University of Bristol, said “Films ought to be rated by exposure to smoking in the same way that they are currently rated by level of violence,” while her colleague called for “a default 18 classification [in the UK] on all films containing smoking.”

If these findings are correct, it seems likely they’d apply to television, too. And, if removing cigarettes from pre-watershed shows could help to reduce smoking among young people, then it’s definitely worth doing.

But Love Island, as fans will know already, airs well and truly after the watershed. And the majority of the action often takes place in the “smoking areas”: this is an unscripted show, and things might start to feel a little forced if Marcel and co were asked to stub out their ciggies and take their conversations back to the living area.

Would we extinguish all of the drama along with the cigarettes?

We guess it’s up to Ofcom to decide…

Images: ITV2


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.