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Notice to Readers: World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2003

"Tobacco-Free Film and Fashion" is the theme designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for this year's World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2003. The event is intended to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and to heighten concern about the depiction of tobacco use in film and fashion. Evidence suggests that when celebrities smoke on screen, audiences, particularly young audiences, imitate them (1). Films depicting tobacco use might be increasing, and they reinforce misleading perceptions that smoking is a widespread, socially desirable, and normal behavior (2). In addition, these films seldom convey the long-term negative health consequences of tobacco use.

Through collaboration with the American Lung Association of Sacramento Emigrant Trails, and a grant from the California Department of Health Services, CDC released a video, "Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema, and the Myth of Cool." This educational video, accompanied by a curriculum for high school and college film, theater, and fine arts students, is being disseminated to increase media literacy and encourage discussion about tobacco depiction in film (e.g., whether smoking on film is a First Amendment issue) and other issues concerning social responsibility. CDC also provides technical assistance to writers and producers of television programming and movies to discourage tobacco use in story lines. Because of this initiative, television programming during 2002--2003 featured numerous antismoking messages, including an evening devoted to antismoking story lines in support of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout in November.

Resources for CDC's Celebrities Against Smoking Campaign (3) are available to WHO and its partners. These items include posters, educational videos, and public service announcements featuring celebrity spokespersons. Additional information about World No Tobacco Day 2003 is available from WHO at http://www.who.dk/tobaccofree/WorldNo/20030131_1 and from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco.

References

  1. Tickle JJ, Sargent JD, Dalton MA, Beach ML, Heatherton TF. Favourite movie stars, their tobacco use in contemporary movies, and its association with adolescent smoking. Tob Control 2001;10:16--22.
  2. Sargent JD, Tickle JJ, Beach ML, Dalton MA, Ahrens MB, Heatherton TF. Brand appearances in contemporary cinema films and contribution to global marketing of cigarettes. Lancet 2001;357:29--32.
  3. CDC. Celebrities against smoking. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/celebs.htm.



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