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Smoking In Youth-rated Movies Has Doubled Since 2010

Rebound seen in top-grossing movies from Warner Bros., Fox, Sony and others

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A year after the U.S. Surgeon General announced that watching movies with characters who smoke causes kids to start smoking, new data show that smoking imagery has markedly increased in the movies that kids see most. Tobacco incidents in youth-rated films doubled between 2010 and 2012, returning to levels of a decade ago. Because tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and large-scale studies demonstrate that movies with smoking increases youth smoking, the rebound represents a set-back for national youth tobacco prevention goals.


According to a new report funded by Legacy, half of 2012's youth-rated movies, delivered an estimated 14.8 billion tobacco impressions to theater audiences, a 169 percent increase from 2010. (Impressions are tobacco incidents multiplied by number of tickets sold per film.) The report was published by the University of California San Francisco and Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails and forms the basis for the information the CDC reports in a new "fact sheet" on its website.

"Movies may be more powerful than traditional tobacco ads," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. "We know that the more smoking that youth see in movies, the more likely they are to smoke. This explosion in on-screen smoking puts hundreds of thousands of young Americans at risk of addiction, disease and premature death."

The 2012 Surgeon General's report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Youth Adults, found that the US film industry has a long, documented history of collaborating with the US tobacco industry to promote smoking and its brands. It has been known for years that on-screen smoking harms their young audience, but the industry as a whole has not adopted evidence-based, industry-wide policies recommended by public health authorities and state attorneys general.

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