Warning to parents of “toxic” tobacco content in Hollywood movies
Hollywood movies continue to deliver powerful pro-tobacco messages to young audiences and pose a critical risk to kids in the U.S. today. Studies show that on-screen tobacco use is responsible for hundreds of thousands of young people beginning to smoke every year, making movies a toxic product to the health of teens.
It is irresponsible for Hollywood to continue to feature tobacco use in films rated for children and teens.
Since 1999 Hollywood has released at least 500 movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 that prominently featured smoking. Altogether, U.S. films with tobacco imagery — 75 percent of all U.S. releases — have delivered an estimated 44 billion tobacco messages to theater audiences in the United States alone, one-quarter of these to children and adolescents.
For years leading U.S. health groups and the United Nation’s World Health Organization have urged Hollywood to take voluntary steps to reduce youth exposure to tobacco imagery on screen. Studies have projected that on-screen tobacco recruits 390,000 new teen smokers each year in the U.S.
Researchers also believe that tobacco in films may be more psychologically engaging than a cigarette advertisement, and may have a bigger impact on youth’s smoking attitudes and their intent to smoke.
Each year 300 movies are reviewed and rated for their tobacco content and the Hackademy Awards showcases the results. The main focus of the night was to have an enjoyable evening as well as to educate the youth attendees on advertising of smoking in movies. The Hackademy Awards is sponsored by Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. This group is working hard to educate people and stop the promotion of tobacco products in cinemas.
I believe grassroots efforts like these are important. Parents need to know that smoking in movies can have a powerful influence on their kids. I encourage parents to talk with their children, know the movies they are going to see, and check out scenesmoking.org for a listing of smoking and tobacco product placement in current movies.
Smoking has no place in movies meant for kids.
For more information about tobacco in Hollywood, the evidence of harm, and the widely endorsed policy solutions visit smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu.
El Dorado Hills
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