Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoking in Movies Shows a Big Increase

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoking in Movies Shows a Big Increase

Article excerpt

Long after views on smoking evolved from glamorous to gross, Hollywood hasnt gotten the message. Nearly half of the movies released last year depicted tobacco use.

There is an established link between on-screen smoking and teenagers decision to start smoking. About 44 percent of teen smokers were primarily influenced by movie characters tobacco use, according to research from Dartmouth University.

Smoking in the movies has a bigger effect than conventional advertising, said Stanton Glantz of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California in San Francisco. The more kids see, the more likely they are to smoke.

After a five-year decline in on-screen tobacco use, there were 7 percent more smoking incidents per movie in 2011, according to a study from Glantz published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Movies rated G, PG or PG-13 saw an even larger increase in smoking, with 34 percent more incidents over the year before. Smoking was depicted in about one in five top-grossing G- or PG- rated movies released in 2011, one-half of PG-13 movies and two- thirds of R-rated movies.

Some of the worst offenders aimed at kids were the PG-rated Rango and Hugo and PG-13 movies Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and X- Men: First Class, according to the study.

Theres just no excuse for having a cartoon like Rango be one of the smokiest movies made that year, Glantz said. Thousands and thousands of kids are going to smoke who otherwise werent going to.

The cartoon features a chameleon, Rango, in a western theme with other animals. When the movie was released, Paramount Pictures issued a statement in response to criticism.

The images of smoking in the film, which primarily involves the animals, are portrayed by supporting characters and are not intended to be celebrated or emulated, reads the statement. Rango is never depicted as smoking.

Any movie that depicts smoking should automatically qualify for an R rating, recommends a consortium of state attorneys general including Chris Koster in Missouri and Lisa Madigan in Illinois.

Their hope is the policy would encourage movie executives to eliminate smoking rather than risk a smaller audience with an R rating. …

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