Tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Ontario. Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to their health, so why do thousands of young people still start smoking every year?
Research has shown that on-screen smoking in movies can influence children and teens and make them more likely to try smoking.
We know kids and teens look up to the stars and characters they see on screen, and want to copy what they do.
Unfortunately, tobacco companies have known this fact for decades. The tobacco industry has a long, documented history of paying Hollywood actors, actresses and movie producers to have their products and brands appear in movies.
The sad part is, it worked. Countless kids and teens were recruited over the years to become new tobacco customers after seeing stars light up and tobacco brands appear on screen.
Kids continue to be exposed to a lot of smoking in youth-rated (G, PG, 14A) movies today. In fact in the past 10 years, 86% of movies with smoking were rated for kids and teens in Ontario.
That is why we are advocating for change. In order to prevent a new generation of tobacco users, all future movies rated for children and teens in Ontario (G, PG, 14A) need to be free from tobacco products and smoking images.
CURRENT ONTARIO RATING SYSTEM
Film ratings are used to:
- give the public advance information about the nature of the film content.
- to restrict admission to films whose content is inappropriate, unsuitable or hazardous for younger viewers.
In Ontario, the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB) receives its mandate through the Film Classification Act, 2005 and is overseen by the Ontario Film Authority. The OFRB classifies (applies ratings- see image below) and approves films to provide the public with sufficient information to make informed viewing choices for themselves and their children for all movies exhibited, rented or sold in Ontario.
- When assigning ratings to movies, the OFRB considers language, nudity, violence, sexual activity, horror & psychological impact but does not considering smoking or tobacco product placement.
- Aside from ratings the OFRB may choose to identify specific ‘detailed observations’ and/or ‘content advisories.’
- Current tobacco-related ‘detailed observations’ include: ‘tobacco-use’ and ‘illustrated or verbal references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco.’ These are available online.
- Current tobacco-related ‘content advisory’ is ‘tobacco use.’
- There is no evidence that mere labeling reduces the harms of youth exposure to onscreen tobacco- a rating change is needed.