Smoking in movies under fire

02 August 2017 - 17:59 By Suthentira Govender
Numerous studies had found that smoking in movies caused youngsters to start smoking, says Savera Kalideen‚ executive director of the National Council Against Smoking.
Numerous studies had found that smoking in movies caused youngsters to start smoking, says Savera Kalideen‚ executive director of the National Council Against Smoking.
Image: iStock

A new report published by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US found that depictions or suggestions of tobacco use in top-grossing movies rose 72% from 2010 to last year.

The study's findings are a concern for South Africa’s National Council Against Smoking‚ which lambasted movie houses for “taking a deadly product and associating it with glamour‚ thrills and independence”.

South African audiences are exposed to the same movie circuit offerings as their global counterparts.

Researchers were particularly concerned that in 2016 the number of tobacco incidents in movies aimed at the youth‚ was 70% higher than in 2015.

“The increase of tobacco incidents in PG-13 movies since 2010 is of particular public health concern because of the established causal relationship between youth exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation‚” researchers stated.

They believe that reducing tobacco incidents that appear in youth-related movies “would prevent the initiation of tobacco use among young people”.

The study found that movies emanating from film companies like Time Warner‚ Fox‚ Sony‚ Comcast and Viacom Paramount showed an increase in tobacco incidents between 2010 and 2016. Disney‚ however‚ showed a decrease.

“Data shows that individual movie company policies alone have not been efficient at minimising smoking in movies.”

Savera Kalideen‚ executive director of the National Council Against Smoking said: “When movies portray smoking‚ it normalises it to young people who are the primary audience.. Smoking is one way for teenagers to imitate the action packed lifestyles of the stars.”

Kalideen said numerous studies had found that smoking in movies caused youngsters to start smoking.

“In South African the law does not allow cigarette companies to pay film producers to show their brands on cinema or television screens‚” she added. - TimesLIVE

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