Smoking scenes double in youth rated movies, study finds
New research shows teen smoking in movies is on the rise. In fact, the number of scenes that depict smoking in youth-rated movies has doubled between 2010 and 2012.
The study was funded by Legacy, a nonprofit, antismoking organization based in Washington, D.C., is boosting concerns that the depictions will encourage more young people to start smoking.
The report comes just a year after the U.S. Surgeon General announced that young people who watch movies where the characters smoke, may cause kids to start smoking, Legacy said in a news release.
“Because tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and large-scale studies demonstrate that movies with smoking increases youth smoking, the rebound represents a set-back for national youth tobacco prevention goals,” the news release stated.
The study authors calculated the number of “tobacco impressions,” which are the number of times smoking appears in the films multiplied by the number of tickets sold per film. According to the study, there were almost 15 billion tobacco impressions in just half of movies marketed to teens in 2012 alone. The number represents a nearly 170 percent jump from movies shown in 2010.
“Movies may be more powerful than traditional tobacco ads,” said Cheryl G. Healton, President and CEO of Legacy, in the news release. “We know that the more smoking that youth see in movies, the more likely they are to smoke. This explosion in on-screen smoking puts hundreds of thousands of young Americans at risk of addiction, disease and premature death.”
The Legacy report says three of the biggest movie studios had eliminated nearly all smoking scenes from movies rated, G/PG/PG-13 in 2010. But just two years later, smoking scenes returned to the screen.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the connection between on-screen smoking and the effect on youth and is also tracking the number of tobacco scenes in movies aimed at kids.
“Increases in smoking imagery in the movies are discouraging,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD. “Every day in the United States approximately 3,800 youth under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 1,000 become daily cigarette smokers. Reducing smoking and tobacco use in youth-oriented movies will help save lives, money, and years of suffering from completely preventable smoking-related chronic diseases.”
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