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Smoking In Movies Criticized By Health Unit

Monday November 3rd, 2014, 10:00am


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The Windsor Essex Heath Unit is concerned with the disturbing trend of tobacco content in youth-rated movies, both locally and globally. They say that in 2013, 86% of the top-grossing movies in Ontario that featured tobacco were rated acceptable for children and teens (G, PG, 14A).

“Smoking and tobacco use in movies is a serious public health issue. Children and teens will watch hundreds of movies over time and the research indicates that it’s the repeated exposure to smoking scenes that can influence youth to start smoking,” says Theresa Sarkis, Youth Engagement Specialist with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. “Research data suggests that 44% of the estimated 300,000 Canadian teens who smoke, first lit up because they saw a character smoking in a film. We need to reverse that trend.”

A review of Oscar-nominated films released in 2012 shows that 61% depicted tobacco-related imagery, according to the Health Unit. Of the films seen in Ontario, the Health Unit says 88% were rated either PG or 14A, exposing young viewers to depictions of smoking and tobacco use.

“Hollywood plays an important role in shaping popular culture and fashion trends. What young people see on screen can play a big role in how they behave themselves,” says Sarkis. “Even though tobacco use has been on the decline in recent years, the amount of smoking that’s in films gives a misleading impression of reality. The film ratings system needs to be changed so that our youth aren’t exposed to these images and aren’t tempted to start smoking.”

Studies over the last few decades suggest that the more teens see tobacco use in films, the greater the likelihood they will start smoking themselves.

For more information visit the ‘Hooked by Hollywood’ fan page on Facebook or visit

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