Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smoking and Tobacco Use in Top Ranking Movies Significantly Reduced

Between 2005 and 2010 the total number of onscreen tobacco incidents decreased 71.6 percent! In 2010 the average number of incidents of tobacco use per youth-rated movie was 6.8, compared to 20.1 in 2005. This  drop is especially exciting because, according to a 2010 meta-analysis of four studies, 44 percent of youth smoking initiation is attributed to viewing tobacco incidents in movies. By exposing our youth to fewer tobacco incidents in movies, we can reduce the number of kids who become lifetime customers of Big Tobacco - currently 4,000 kids in US try smoking for the first time every single day!

So making sure that tobacco use doesn't look cool in kids' favorite movies is important. Between 2004 and 2007, three of the six major motion picture companies adopted policies which provide review of scripts, story boards, daily footage, rough cuts and the final edited film by a manager to monitor tobacco incidents. While tobacco imagery is not banned completely within these policies, these three companies have eliminated tobacco depictions almost entirely in their G, PG and PG-13 rated movies.

Despite this great news, there's still work to be done to get tobacco out of movies our kids see. The World Health Organization and many other public health groups and health professionals recommend that tobacco use in movies automatically set the rating to R unless the movie portrays a historical character who smoked or shows the real, negative effects of tobacco use. Other recommendations include showing ads that warn viewers of the dangers of tobacco use before movies that depict smoking or use of other tobacco products, and "certifying no payments for depicting tobacco use and ending depiction of tobacco brands," according to MMWR report.

But the reduction we're seeing now is certainly a great step and certainly worth celebrating... perhaps with a trip to the theater?

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