Smoking in kids' movies is up
LOS ANGELES -- Smoking in films has risen to a level not seen since 1950, according to a study released this week, reportedly leading nearly 400,000 adolescents to light up each year.
Published in the journal Pediatrics and compiled from 40 individual studies, the report found that smoking or tobacco-related activities popped up 10.9 times per hour on film in 2002, the most recent year cited. That's slightly above 1950, the last high point, and more than double the number in 1982, the lowest point.
The study also found that youth-rated films, PG-13 and below, now have more tobacco impressions than R-rated movies.
Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who co-authored the report, said the findings lend credence to his quest for a mandatory R rating for all films that feature smoking.
"We've estimated 390,000 kids start to smoke every year because of the movies," said Glantz, a longtime tobacco control activist. "An R rating would cut that in half, so if we stay with the status quo, a couple hundred thousand kids will be delivered into the hands of the tobacco companies."
Glantz also wants any movie with smoking to have a mandatory public service announcement about the dangers of tobacco use played beforehand, no tobacco brand identification and a certification that film studios receive no compensation for the on-screen depiction of tobacco products.
The study comes several weeks after 32 attorneys general sent letters to Paramount Pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment, Warner Bros., The Walt Disney Co. and five other studios requesting that they include anti-smoking messages in their DVDs and home videos.
"We all are in agreement that smoking is a serious health problem," said Kory Bernards, vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America. "Our industry shouldn't be glamorizing it."
She said that parents should rely on PG-13 and R ratings as guidelines for what's appropriate for children to see. Smoking by adults would not be reflected in the current ratings system, she said, nor is the mandatory R rating that Glantz seeks being considered.