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Smoking in the Movies

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Tobacco in Youth-Rated Movies2

  • This infographic shows that 2016 youth-rated (G, PG, PG-13) movies included more smoking than the year before.
    • Incidents per movie increased 21%, from 7.4 to 8.9.
    • PG-13 movies that were tobacco-free increased to 65% (43 of 66 movies) from 53% (31 of 59 movies).
    • Youth-rated movies delivered 4.5 billion tobacco impressions to theater audiences—a 59% increase from 2015.
  • Performance by movie studio varied.
    • Comcast’s Universal, which averaged a single tobacco incident in its youth-rated movies in 2015, had the most per youth-rated film in 2016 at 17.7.
    • The Walt Disney Company, which had the most tobacco incidents per youth-rated film in 2015 at 11.2, had the fewest tobacco incidents per youth-rated films: 1 or less.
    • Sony delivered the largest share of youth-rated tobacco impressions at 33% (1.5 billion of 4.5 billion), followed by Comcast’s Universal at 20% (900 million of 4.5 billion) and Twenty-First Century Fox at 19% (858 million of 4.5 billion).
  • Five of the six so-called major movie companies, all with published corporate tobacco depiction policies (Comcast, Twenty-First Century Fox, Sony, Time Warner, and Viacom) averaged more tobacco incidents in their 2016 youth-rated movies than in their 2015 movies. The Walt Disney Company, which also has a published policy, and the independent movie companies averaged fewer tobacco incidents.

Tobacco Incidents in Top-Grossing Movies by MPAA Rating, 1991–20165

  • This graph shows that the total number of tobacco incidents in movies has fluctuated over more than 20 years, ranging from a low of 1,612 incidents in 1998 to a high of 3,947 incidents in 2005.
  • A 5-year reduction to 1,824 incidents reversed in 2010.
  • After exceeding 2,500 incidents from 2011 to 2014, tobacco incidents in 2015 returned to a level somewhat below 2010, then rebounded to 3,145 incidents in 2016.
  • Movies rated G and PG accounted for fewer than 1 of every 100 (1%) tobacco incidents in 2016.
  • Movies rated PG-13 accounted for 26 of every 100 (26%) incidents, down from 30 of every 100 (30%) incidents in 2015.

In-Theater Tobacco Impressions by MPAA Rating, 2002–20165

  • The number of tobacco impressions delivered to domestic theater audiences reached 30.1 billion in 2005 and then decreased by half over the next 5 years.
  • From 2010 to 2014, tobacco impressions delivered by PG-13 movies more than doubled, decreased 74% from 2014 to 2015, and returned to 2010 levels in 2016.
  • Youth-rated movies delivered 28% of all tobacco impressions in 2016, the lowest proportion of all in-theater tobacco impressions since at least 2002.
  • Almost all the 75% decline in tobacco impressions delivered by youth-rated movies since 2002 is explained by a decline in smoking in movies with larger budgets (more than $50 million).
  • Movies of all ratings delivered 16.2 billion tobacco impressions to moviegoers in 2016, up 75% from 9.3 billion in 2015, the largest change from one year to the next since at least 2002.