Smoking in the Movies
- In 2012, the Surgeon General concluded that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and smoking initiation among young people1.
- 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.
- Recent content analysis of tobacco imagery in movies showed a decline in the appearance of tobacco incidents in PG-13 movies from 2005 to 20102. However, in 2011, incidents increased3 and this increase continued in 2012.
- In 2012, there were a total of 2,818 tobacco incidents in top-grossing movies, compared to 1,880 in 2011 and 1,819 in 2010, when the total number of incidents reached its lowest level since 20024.
- This included 1,155 tobacco incidents in PG-13 movies (vs. 565 in 2010)
- Tobacco incidents in R rated films also increased, from 1,220 in 2010 to 1,640 in 2012.
- Despite the low amount of smoking in G and PG movies (30 incidents in 2010 and 23 in 2012), total tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies and incidents per youth-rated movie doubled between 2010 and 2012.
- In 2012, tobacco incidents per youth-rated movie ranged from 4.3 (Comcast: Universal) to 26.5 (Time Warner: Warner Bros.). The percent of youth-rated movies without tobacco incidents ranged from 46% (Sony) to 92% (Disney).
- By January 2013, five studios had policies in place to discourage smoking in youth-rated movies. However, all allow exceptions.
- Between 2010 and 2011, companies with policies in place had an increase in tobacco incidents per youth-rated film3.
- While Comcast and Disney had slightly fewer incidents in 2012, Time Warner incidents increased. Most companies without policies in place continued to show an increase in 2012.
Explanation: Viacom, a non-policy company before 2013, went down in 2012, while Time Warner, a policy company, went up.
- In 2012, youth-rated movies delivered 14.8 billion tobacco impressions (paid admissions X tobacco incidents), an increase of 33% over 2011.
- The data suggest that current movie studio policies are not sufficient to maintain reductions in on-screen tobacco incidents, as studios with policies had more incidents in 2012 than in 2010.
- Several strategies have been identified to reduce youth exposure to on-screen tobacco incidents1,2.
- The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report concluded that an industry-wide standard to rate movies with tobacco imagery R, would result in reductions in youth smoking.3
- States and local jurisdictions could also work towards reducing tobacco imagery in movies through business incentive programs.2
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young Adults. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2012 [accessed 2013 Mar 25].
- Glantz S, Mitchell, S, Titus K, Polansky JR, Kaufmann R, Bauer U (2011) Smoking in Top-Grossing Movies—United States, 2010 MMWR 60:909–913. [accessed 2013 Mar 25]
- Glantz SA, Iaccopucci A, Titus K, Polansky JR. Smoking in top-grossing US movies, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:120170. [accessed 2013 Mar 25].
- Polansky JR, Titus K, Lanning N, Glantz SA (2013). Smoking in top-grossing US movies, 2012 . University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. [accessed 2013 Mar 25].
For Further Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
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