The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report indicating that the number of Hollywood movies featuring tobacco products has dropped.
However, the number of movie scenes showing the use of tobacco increased by 80% from 2015 to 2016, Tech Times reports. In 2016, 41% of the top-grossing movies released in the US showed people using tobacco.
The researchers who authored the report used data from the Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! project of the Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. The project advocates for clean air, healthy lungs, and tobacco-free communities.
The study found that in 2016, 26% of the top films that were rated G, PG and PG-13 depicted tobacco use. The number was much higher – 67% — for R-rated movies. In 2015, the use of tobacco was shown 1,743 times, which went up to 3,145 in 2016.
These numbers raised concerns among public health experts and tobacco-free advocates, who say that these depictions might have a detrimental effect on the behavior of the youth.
Michael Tynan, from the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, wrote, “Tobacco use depictions are now uncommon in G and PG films; however, the 43% increase in the total number of tobacco-use incidents in PG-13 movies, from 564 in 2010 to 809 in 2016, is of particular public health concern because of the established causal relationship between youths’ exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation.”
There has been a proven link between smoking shown in movies and cigarette smoking in real life. In 2012, the US surgeon general released a report that highlighted how watching smoking in films caused young people to smoke, as well.
We’ve known for a while that the more you see smoking on screen, the more likely you are to see youth smoking cigarettes in real life.
The researchers suggested that improvements be made in the regulation of tobacco depictions to address the problem. These include giving R movie ratings to films with scenes of tobacco use, among other possible measures.
The report came out in the July 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).