While health experts expend considerable energy drawing attention to the health risks of smoking, Hollywood continues to glamorize tobacco use and to feature it in a growing number of movies.
That’s according to a CDC study, “Tobacco Use in Top-Grossing Movies — United States, 2010–2016,” which shows a 43 percent increase in tobacco depictions in PG-13 movies.
“Based on previous trends, we thought tobacco use in film would soon play its final scene,” says American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.
Taking up a deadly habit
What’s wrong with smoking scenes in movies?
“Just one scene with his or her favorite actor lighting up could be all it takes to prompt a young person to start smoking,” Brown explains. “According to the Surgeon General, kids exposed to tobacco imagery in movies are two to three times more likely to take up this deadly habit than their peers.
“Film scenes that glamorize smoking in any way should be struck from all movie scripts. But if they do make it to the final cut, the films should have an 'R’ rating so that they are not marketed to our children.”
Even children's films feature tobacco
The 134 top-grossing films of 2011 depicted nearly 1,900 tobacco “incidents” (a definition that includes implied use of a tobacco product). Movies aimed at young audiences do not refrain from smoking references; the animated feature Rango had 50+ tobacco incidents in it.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in an attempt to get smoking scenes banned from films rated G, PG or PG-13. The MPAA says such a ban would infringe upon the first amendment right to free speech.