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Smoking in Top-Grossing Movies—United States, 1991–2009

August 20, 2010 / Vol. 59 / No. 32

MMWR Introduction

Seeing smoking in motion pictures increases the probability that young people will start smoking, and young people who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking are approximately 2–3 times more likely to begin smoking than young people lightly exposed to seeing smoking in movies. To monitor the amount of tobacco use appearing in popular U.S. films, Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California of Sacramento—Emigrant Trails, counted the number of tobacco-use incidents in top-grossing films from 1991–2009. The number of onscreen smoking incidents peaked in 2005 and then steadily declined over the next 4 years. Further reduction of tobacco use depicted in popular movies could lead to less initiation of smoking among young people.

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