Smoking Scenes in Youth-Rated Movies Decline, But More Work Remains

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For the fifth year in a row, the number of smoking scenes in major youth-rated movies has declined, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the percentage of top-grossing movies with no tobacco incidents were the highest in 2010 compared with the last 20 years.

The report, Smoking in Top-Grossing Movies – United States 2010,  showed that the number of onscreen tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies (G, PG, or PG-13) dropped from 2,093 in 2005 to 595 in 2010. That’s almost a 72% decrease.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that one in five high school students still smoke and “there’s still a substantial amount of smoking in youth-related films,” said Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., one of the study authors and director of Smoke Free Movies, in a news conference.

Several studies have indicated that smoking in movies increases the odds smoking initiation among youth.

Physicians ought to be educating parents that this is a real problem and that they should not let their youth watch movies that have smoking in them, said Dr. Glantz in a phone interview. His Web site lists the smoking status of top-grossing movies every week.

The report is also the first to look at the impact of policy. Three of the six major studios which have adopted a smoking-reduction policies between 2004 and 2007 had lowered their on-screen smoking incidents much more than those studios with no policy in place.

“The data find that three major movie studios (Comcast/Universal, Disney and Time Warner/Warner Bros.) have almost eliminated tobacco from their youth-rated movies, reducing the number of tobacco incidents per film (G/PG/PG13) by 96 percent.  In contrast, studios without policies as well as independent companies (News Corporation/Twentieth Century Fox, Sony/Columbia/Screen Gems and Viacom/Paramount) reduced tobacco depictions in youth-rated movies by an average of only 42 percent over the same period,” according to a news release by the Legacy for Longer Healthier Lives, which hosted a news conference following the report’s release.

The authors admit that implementation of policy won’t affect youths exposure to older movies and that youths do watch R-rated movies, but they recommend several solutions.

They suggest anti-tobacco ads before the movies that have smoking scenes. They also recommend expanding the R rating to include movies with smoking as one way to reduce adolescent exposure to on-screen smoking.

“And if you want to get politically involved,” said Dr. Glantz, “work with your state to stop subsidizing movies with smoking in them.” Almost all states offer movie producers subsidies in the form of tax credit or cash rebates to attract movie production to their states, according to the CDC report. “The 15 states subsidizing top-grossing movies with tobacco incidents spent more on these productions in 2010 ($288 million) than they budgeted for their state tobacco-control programs in 2011 ($280 million),” the authors write.

The authors used data from the Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! project, which counts occurrences of tobacco incidents in U.S. top-grossing movies each year, to update their 2010 report.

By Naseem S. Miller (@ReportingBack)

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1 Comment

Filed under Family Medicine, Health Policy, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Primary care

One response to “Smoking Scenes in Youth-Rated Movies Decline, But More Work Remains

  1. dartangnonmusical

    Having the ability to choose what films we watch is what freedom of choice is all about, and the rating system has been getting much stricter in how they rate. I have been a film lover since childhood and grew up in a very conventional family with a high level of control placed upon me which included film as with everything else. I do believe looking back that there is a point where too much sheltering is unrealistic and produces a naïve young adult who gets thrown into a world they are not prepared for. Yet, I also feel there are precautions parents can take very easily and there are so many parental controls available and good entertainment especially depending on the provider being used as the source of the entertainment. We don’t have to go out to the movies anymore if we don’t want to; we can stay home and have an abundance of options including rentals online. My blog for which I moderate is based on film but one of the topics that was brought up is what’s best for our children and what too much control over their worldly preparation is. Because I love to write and I require a resources that allows me the movies and TV options necessary to give me an array of choices. It was a bit shocking that Comcast wasn’t making 100% digital programming available plus had such limitations in their programming and initial free equipment. International channels were quite limited which means my writing would suffer on that level and they were not offering HD free for life. This certainly would not work due to the type of writing I do which is all based off movies and the actors surrounding them. Now I did find that with Dish Network I can get more programming and movie channels for far less money plus a free Sling Adapter which fits me as I travel a lot and need to bring my services with me. I ended up changing jobs and started working for Dish Network, still traveling a lot but understanding better how all this is possible. Now I am clear that whatever makes it easiest to work and enjoy my own hobby is what is necessary which brings happiness to me and my internet family. http://www.besttvforme.com/

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