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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Your Health

Smoking in Youth-Rated Movies Double in Two Years

Smoking scenes in movies for young people have returned to the same number as a decade ago.

Smoking scenes in youth-rated movies doubled in number between 2010 and 2012, according to a new study by Legacy Research Institute, a nonprofit, anti-smoking foundationg based in Washington D.C.

The portrayal of tobacco use in movies geared towards young people has reached the same level as a decade ago.

According to the study, half of youth-rated movies in 2012 made an estimated 14.8 billion "tobacco impressions." This is a 169 percent increase from the historic low in 2010. Tobacco impressions are defined in the study as depictions of tobacco use multiplied by the number of tickets sold per film.

"Movies may be more powerful than traditional tobacco ads," said Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of Legacy, said in a foundation news release. "We know that the more smoking that youth see in movies, the more likely they are to smoke."

"This explosion in on-screen smoking puts hundreds of thousands of young Americans at risk of addiction, disease and premature death."

The new Legacy report stated three major film studios had eliminated almost all smoking in their youth-rated movies in 2010. But by 2012, Time Warner's Warner Bros. had the most depictions of smoking in their youth-rated movies, followed by Sony and News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox.

Viacom (Paramount), Disney and Comcast (Universal) had less smoking in their youth-rated movies in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the report.

A 2012 report by the Surgeon General concluded there is "a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and smoking initiation among young people."

The Surgeon General also stated "almost one-half (45%) of top-grossing films in the United States between 2002 and 2012 were rated PG-13, making them easily accessible to youth."

You can read the Surgeon General's full report here.

Since 2002, the CDC has listed on-screen smoking as a factor in young people taking up smoking. Research suggests that seeing smoking in movies is a factor in 37 percent of new young smokers in the United States taking up the habit, according to Legacy.

About 800,000 current smokers in the United States are aged 12 to 17, according to the release. Of that population, an estimated 250,000 people will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases and may incur medical costs of $18 billion up to age 50.


I just don't get this: All this outrage over smoking tobacco in movies, yet marijuana showing up in movies more and more, and I don't see zip about that in print. Hell, everyone in a hurry to legalize it and declare it "safe". Yeah - let's see how that social experiment works out. Your healthcare dollars soon to go up to support everybody's rehab sessions on that one.

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