March 1, 2007
GROUP WARNS PARENTS OF 'TOXIC TOBACCO CONTENT' IN HOLLYWOOD MOVIES
Hollywood movies deliver billions of tobacco impressions to young audiences annually and pose one of the gravest threats to U.S. teens, says Katie Ives, Oswego County Reality Check Coordinator. “Because they're viewed by audiences around the world,” said Ives, “the toxic tobacco content of movies produced in the U.S. causes harm around the world.”
“Movies with tobacco recruit one-third to one-half of young smokers in the U.S. Studies overseas find similar effects on young people in other nations,” said Christina Wilson, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. “Hollywood is exporting toxic products and we have a responsibility, as American parents, to stop them.”
They cited one cartoon film now on DVD, “The Ant Bully,” which includes 41 scenes with tobacco. Since 1999, Hollywood has released 483 G/PG/PG-13 movies with tobacco, somewhat more than the 472 R-rated films with tobacco imagery. Together, these films -- 75 percent of all U.S. releases -- have delivered an estimated 49 billion tobacco impressions to theater audiences, one-quarter of these to children and adolescents.
Leading U.S. health groups and the United Nations' World Health Organization have urged Hollywood to take voluntary steps to reduce teen exposure to tobacco imagery on screen. Studies have concluded that on-screen tobacco recruits 390,000 new teen smokers each year in the U.S. alone. Researchers also believe that the portrayal of tobacco use on film may be more psychologically engaging than a cigarette ad, and may have a bigger impact on youth's smoking attitudes and their intent to smoke.
Ives said that health advocates are asking for R-rating future tobacco scenes, anti-tobacco spots before films with tobacco imagery, certification that movies with tobacco don't receive tobacco pay-offs, and no more tobacco brand display.
For more information about tobacco in Hollywood, visit www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu. For information on Oswego County Reality check, call the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3451.
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