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Smoking in Movies starts children smoking – AMA press release Smoking in Films

14 July 2011

CHICAGO?A new study in the CDC?s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,  ?Smoking in Top-Grossing Movies — United States, 2010,? shows promise for the ability of movie producers to positively affect young people’s health by reducing the number of teens who smoke. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls on all movie producers to adopt policies that create a healthier movie experience for kids.

According to the study, which looked at on-screen tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies released in 2010, the number of such incidents has declined 72 percent since 2005. And the movie studios that have published policies designed to reduce smoking in films were responsible for a 90 percent decrease in tobacco incidents in their films, demonstrating that such an approach is feasible.

Previous research has shown a link between onscreen smoking and adolescent smoking.

Since 2008, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has supported the Smoke Free Movies campaign, which asks movie producers to l eave smoking imagery out of movies meant for kids.

The AAP also has asked the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to adopt rating restrictions that would give an ‘R’ rating to any movie featuring tobacco imagery, with few exceptions.

‘As pediatricians and parents, we do our best to help kids understand the dangers of tobacco use. But if we’re competing with movies that glamorize smoking to kids, it’s an uphill battle,’ said AAP President O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP. ‘Based on the evidence, on-screen smoking is one of the biggest media dangers to children. It’s possible for media companies to change the way they expose children to these images by embracing responsible policies, such as the R-rating, considered to be effective by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those companies that have done so should be commended, and the others should follow suit.& quit;

The AAP also advocates for states to only subsidize those film producers that keep their youth-rated films free of tobacco imagery, which is discussed in the MMWR report.

The AAP?s Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence and the AAP Council on Communications and Media work jointly on issues related to smoking and movies for the AAP.

For more information, visit AAP Contact: Gina Steiner, 847-434-7945,


Statement attributable to: Peter W. Carmel, M.D.

President, American Medical Association

“The American Medical Association (AMA) is gratified to see progress in the effort to remove smoking from youth-rated films by Disney, Time Warner and Universal, and we applaud the CDC for creating this important report. We urge the remaining studios to reduce smoking in their films, and we call on the Motion Picture Association of America to follow the CDC recommendation and give movies that depict smoking an “R” rating.

“Research shows that the more smoking young people see on screen, the more likely they are to become smokers. Each day, a staggering 4,000 children try their first cigarette, 1,000 of whom will become daily smokers and put themselves at risk for the serious health consequences associated with smoking. Removing the allure of smoking from youth-rated films is an important step toward keeping today’s youth from becoming tomorrow’s smokers.”

# # #

Janet Williams

Senior Policy Analyst

Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles

American Medical Association

515 N. State St.

Chicago, IL 60654


Fax – 312-464-4111

July 14, 2011

CDC Study Finds Progress in Reducing Smoking in Movies, but R-Rating Still Needed to Protect Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers – Tobacco Free Kids

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC (July 14, 2011) ? The amount of smoking in top-grossing, youth-rated movies has dropped significantly in the past five years, with far larger declines by studios that have published policies to reduce smoking in youth-rated films (those rated G, PG or PG-13), according to a new study published today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study shows that studios can reduce and even eliminate smoking in youth-rated movies, but have taken inconsistent approaches that still result in significant youth exposure to smoking in the movies.  It underscores the need for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to require an R-rating for any new movie with smoking, with the exception of movies that depict the health consequences of smoking or actual historical figures who smoked.  This study shows that studios have nothing to fear from such a policy and can effectively implement it to reduce a significant cause of youth smoking.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The total number of on-screen tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies decreased by 72 percent from 2,093 in 2005 to 595 in 2010.
  • The average number of tobacco incidents per youth-rated movie decreased by 66 percent, from 20.1 in 2005 to 6.8 in 2010.
  • The three major studios that have published smoking reduction policies (Comcast/Universal, Disney and Time Warner/Warner Bros.) have almost eliminated tobacco use from their youth-rated movies.  These studios on average reduced the number of tobacco incidents by 96 percent between 2005 and 2010.
  • In contrast, the three major studios (News Corporation/Twentieth Century Fox, Sony/Columbia/Screen Gems and Viacom/Paramount) and independent studios with no published smoking reduction policies have had much smaller reductions in tobacco depictions, averaging only 42 percent.
  • Despite this progress, 45 percent of top-grossing movies in 2010 still had tobacco incidents, including 31 percent of youth-rated movies.

We applaud Comcast/Universal, Disney and Time Warner/Warner Bros. for setting a positive example and nearly eliminating smoking from their youth-rated movies, and we urge the MPAA to take action to resolve this problem once and for all by requiring an R-rating for any new movie with smoking.  Research shows that youth who are exposed to smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking.  It?s time for the movies to end their long and harmful history of glamorizing tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.

The CDC study can be found at:…

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