On-screen smoking in youth movies sharply declines

Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:03pm EDT
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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Far fewer top-grossing U.S. films aimed at young audiences are featuring smoking scenes, a possible factor in the decline in cigarette use among middle and high school students, health officials said on Thursday.

Tobacco use appeared on-screen 595 times in 2010 in top movies rated G, PG or PG-13, a 71.6 percent drop from 2005, according to a new survey by a non-profit group, Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails.

The survey was featured on Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."

The drop in on-screen tobacco use largely can be attributed to policies by three major film studios, Time Warner, Disney and Comcast, which discourage smoking in their films, said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco who contributed to the CDC article.

Tobacco use in youth-rated movies by those three companies dropped 95.8 percent from 2005 to 2010, compared to 41.7 percent among companies without such policies, the CDC said.

"What this shows is that those policies have been working," Glantz told Reuters.

The CDC article concluded that the decreased presence of on-screen smoking might have contributed to less smoking by young people in real life.

From 2000 to 2009, tobacco use among middle school students declined from 15.1 percent to 8.2 percent and among high school students from 34.5 percent to 23.9 percent, the CDC reported last August.   Continued...