Tobacco Use in Top-Grossing Movies — United States, 2010–2018

The US Surgeon General has concluded that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in movies and the initiation of smoking among young persons.

To monitor smoking in movies, “the CDC counted the number of times tobacco use appeared in top-grossing films (those that made the Top 10 in the week of their release) with data from lung health nonprofit Breathe California Sacramento Region and the University of California, San Francisco’s Smoke-Free Movies program.

Both programs defined a “tobacco incident” as the use or implied use of tobacco products like cigarettes, pipes or e-cigarettes on-screen.

Overall, tobacco use onscreen jumped 57% in all films from 2010 to 2018. The most marked jump occurred in PG-13 biographical dramas, at 233%.

Perhaps oddly, researchers said, fictional characters who existed within real stories were the most frequent on-screen smokers.

Meantime, some companies wiped out tobacco use entirely in films for younger audiences. Smoking in Disney and Viacom features dropped to zero by 2018 — but in films produced by Comcast, tobacco incidents increased nearly 3,000%.”

Tynan MA, Polansky JR, Driscoll D, Garcia C, Glantz SA. Tobacco Use in Top-Grossing Movies — United States, 2010–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:974–978.

by Dr.Stephen Hamann

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