Aug 19, 2010 10:00 PM by Alison Haynes
NEW YORK (AP) - There's a lot less smoking in the movies these
days, a new report shows.
Tobacco use on the silver screen peaked in 2005 and has been on
the decline since, according to research that looked at the most
popular films from 1991 to 2009.
Last year more than half of the 145 top movies released didn't
show any smoking at all. That's a record for the past two decades.
For films aimed at children or teens, the percentage was even
higher - 61 percent. However, 54 percent of the movies rated PG-13
did show tobacco use.
The report "shows that Hollywood is perfectly capable of making
movies without as much smoking and people still come see them,"
said the study's lead author, Stan Glantz, director of the Center
for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of
California, San Francisco.
The report was released Thursday in a Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention publication.
Glantz and others have been pressuring movie studios for years
to cut out smoking in movies marketed to children and teens. Those
efforts appear to be paying off, with studios adopting policies on
smoking and putting anti-smoking messages on DVDs that depict
smoking, he said.
The amount of smoking in PG-13-rated mo es is of particular
concern, though, because that's where teens view it most, he said.
The more on-screen smoking they see, the more likely they are to
pick up the habit themselves, the study's authors say.
"There's a declining trend - which is good to see - but we
haven't made nearly enough progress," said Ursula Bauer of the
After years of decline, the smoking rate for high school
students has stalled at 1 in 5, which Bauer said could be partly
due to the promotion of smoking in movies.
For their study, the researchers tracked tobacco use in the most
popular films for nearly two decades. Included were the top 50
films for the years 1991-2001, and films ranked in the weekly top
10 from 2002-2009. They counted the number of times tobacco use was
From a peak of nearly 4,000 in 2005, the number dropped steadily
to 1,935 last year.
Since 2007, the Motion Picture Association of America has
consideM d smoking as a factor in its rating system, noting when
cigarette use has affected the rating. For example, the PG-13
rating for "Avatar" included "some smoking."
"This ensures specific information is front and center for
parents as they make decisions for their kids," the group said in
a statement Thursday.
Some critics, including Glantz, have pushed for an automatic R
rating for films that depict smoking, to serve as an economic
incentive to drop tobacco use from their movies to get a less
The study was partly funded by the American Legacy Foundation,
an anti-smoking organization established as part of the settlement
between states and the tobacco industry, and the California Tobacco
Control Program. Neither group had a role in the research.