Smoking in the Movies

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Tobacco in Youth-Rated Movies2

  • This infographic shows that 2017 youth-rated (G, PG, PG-13) movies included more smoking than the year before.
    • Incidents per movie increased 21%, from 9.0 to 10.9.
    • PG-13 movies that were tobacco-free decreased to 50% (30 of 60 movies) from 65% (43 of 66 movies).
    • Youth-rated movies delivered 4.6 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 2017 at 29.9.
    • The Walt Disney Company, which had the most tobacco incidents per youth-rated film in 2015 at 11.2, had no tobacco incidents in youth-rated films in 2017.
    • Comcast delivered the largest share of youth-rated tobacco impressions at 39% (1.8 billion of 4.6 billion), followed by Viacom’s Paramount at 19% (891 million of 4.6 billion) and Time Warner’s Warner Bros. at 16% (746 million of 4.6 billion).
  • Two of the six major movie companies (Comcast and Viacom’s Paramount), both with published corporate tobacco depiction policies, averaged more tobacco incidents in their 2017 youth-rated movies than in their 2016 movies. So did the independent movie companies with top-grossing films in 2017. The Walt Disney Company, Twenty-First Century Fox, Sony and Time Warner’s Warner Bros., which also have published policies, 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 3,163 incidents in 2016 and 2,914 in 2017.
  • Movies rated G and PG accounted for fewer than 1 of every 100 (1%) tobacco incidents in 2017.
  • Movies rated PG-13 accounted for 30 of every 100 (30%) incidents, up from 26 of every 100 (26%) incidents in 2016.

In-Theater Tobacco Impressions by MPAA Rating, 2002–20175

  • 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 and 2017.
  • Youth-rated movies delivered 34% of all tobacco impressions in 2017, the second-lowest proportion of all in-theater tobacco impressions since at least 2002.
  • The proportion of tobacco impressions delivered by movies rated G or PG fell from 8% in 2011 to less than 0.5%, on average, from 2012 to 2017.
  • 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 13.7 billion tobacco impressions to moviegoers in 2017, up 47% from the 21st Century low of 9.3 billion in 2015.