- About Us
- The Campaign
- The Issue
- Tobacco Info
- THE RESEARCH
- Act Now
- Youth in Action
- Parents in Action
Summary of Key Findings
Impact on Youth Smoking
Research examining the prevalence of smoking in movies and its impact on youth smoking has accumulated in recent years. The US National Cancer Institute reviewed this evidence in 2008 and reached the following conclusion: “The total weight of evidence from cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental studies indicates a causal relationship between exposure to movie smoking depictions and youth smoking initiation.”1
Analyzing the results of four large US studies, researchers estimate that 44% of youth smoking can be attributed to on-screen smoking exposure.2 Applied to a Canadian content, an estimated 130,000 Canadians age 15-19 became addicted to
tobacco industry products due to exposure to on-screen smoking, of whom 43,000 will eventually die of tobacco-caused diseases.3
Film ratings directly affect the amount of exposure to tobacco in films that young people receive. In Canada, the majority of films released in 2009 were youth-rated, and 1.117 billion tobacco impressions were delivered in G/PG/14A films in theatres. The number of tobacco impressions is calculated by multiplying the number of tobacco incidents per film by the number of paid admissions per film.3 It is important to note that while reports of in-theatre tobacco depictions represent an index of exposure, they underestimate the total tobacco impressions delivered, since films are also viewed on DVD and Blue-ray, video-on-demand, cable, satellite, and broadcast and broadband media.3
Although most movies viewed in Canada are produced by US companies, the number of youth-rated films with tobacco depictions shown in theatres is higher in Canada than the US because provincial film boards classify more movies as 14A or PG that are rated R in the US.3 In 2009, 125 of the 145 movies with tobacco released in Canadian theatres were youth-rated films (G, PG, 14A), delivering more than two-thirds (68%) of all in-theatre tobacco impressions.3
(1) National Cancer Institute, Monograph 19: The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use, June 2008. http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/tcrb/monographs/19/m19_complete.pdf. Accessed August 2010.
(2) C Millett and SA Glantz, “Assigning an ‘18’ rating to movies with tobacco imagery is essential to reduce youth smoking (editorial),” Thorax 2010; 65(5): 377-78. http://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/pdf/Millett-44pct.pdf. Accessed August 2010.
(3) Physicians for Smoke-Free Canada, Polansky, J.. Tobacco Vector: How American movies, Canadian film subsidies and provincial rating practices will kill 43,000 Canadian teen alive today- and what Canadian government scan do about it. July 2010. www.smoke-free.ca/pdf_1/2010/Tobaccovector.pdf. Accessed April 2010.