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CDC Reports Less Smoking in Movies That Target Youth

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Children and young teens are being exposed to less smoking in movies than they were five years ago, an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows. The CDC has found that the number of youth-targeted films that include smoking has decreased for the fifth consecutive year.

Since 2005, there has been an almost 72 percent decrease in smoking images in movies rated G, PG or PG-13, from 2,093 in 2005 to 595 in 2010, HealthDay reports. The average number of smoking incidents in those films decreased from about 20 percent in 2005 to 6.8 percent in 2010.

Researcher Stanton Glantz, Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said the three studios who have instituted policies to reduce tobacco in their movies—Time Warner, Disney and Comcast/Universal—had a 95.8 percent decrease in depictions of tobacco use between 2005 and 2010, compared with an average decrease of 41.7 percent in movies made by independent film companies and the three major movie companies—News Corp/Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom/Paramount and Sony/Columbia/Screen Gems—without such policies.

Glantz advocates for giving any film that depicts smoking an R rating. He also called for cutting state tax subsidies to film companies when their movie includes smoking scenes.

In his report, Glantz notes that the National Cancer Institute has found a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to depictions of smoking in movies and teens’ decision to start smoking. Teens in the top 25 percent of exposures to onscreen smoking are twice as likely to begin smoking as those in the bottom 25 percent, he writes in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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