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Why Is Smoking In Movies An Issue?
Have you ever noticed how many movies show images of smoking?
Think that’s just a coincidence to see your favorite stars light up on screen?
The history of the tobacco industry’s collaboration with Hollywood, including payment for the placement of tobacco products in movies, is well documented. “Film is better than any commercial that has been run on television or in any magazine, because the audience is totally unaware of any sponsor involvement.”1 Today, tobacco use in films remains widespread.2 The influence of smoking in movies on young people should not be surprising, given the pervasive influence of Hollywood on popular culture and the fact that most other vehicles of tobacco promotion have been banned.
In 1998 US tobacco companies entered into a legally-binding agreement with state attorneys general that prohibits paid brand placement in entertainment accessible to young people. Despite this prohibition, smoking in movies actually increased from 1998 to 2005, especially in blockbuster films.3 Tobacco imagery and brands are still depicted in more than half of all films rated PG-13 in the US and 14A in Canada.4 As well, it is still very common for leading actors and actresses to smoke on-screen, giving rise to speculation about whether payments to moviemakers are still being made, however covertly.
(1) Smoke-Free Movies. Website text. http://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ problem/bigtobacco.html. Accessed April 2010.
(2) Smoke-Free Movies. Website text. http://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ problem/studio_surveys.html. Accessed April 2010.
(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.(August 20 2010) Smoking in Tobacco-Grossing Movies- United States, 1991-2009. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5932a2.htm?s_cid=mm5932a2_w. Accessed August 2010.
(4) 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. July2010. www.smoke-free.ca/pdf_1/2010/Tobaccovector.pdf. Accessed April 2010.