November 9, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

CDC will regularly reporting smoking in movies along with other key public health indicators

We worked with the CDC to report the amount of smoking in movies in 2009 and 2010 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, then for 2011 in Preventing Chronic Disease.  The first two reports showed that consistent drops in the amount of onscreen smoking between 2005 and 2010.  The 2011 showed that this improving trend reversed and there was an increase in onscreen smoking in 2011.

This week the CDC responded to this rebound with an editorial in Preventing Chronic Disease that observed "depictions of tobacco use per youth-rated movie rebounded; estimated instances of tobacco use in 2011 were more than one-third higher than in 2010. ...  As a result of this sharp rebound, the difference in tobacco-use incidents per youth-rated movie between companies with policies and companies without policies diminished in 2011 (4). This difference suggests that individual company policies may not be sufficient to sustain a reduction in youth exposure to tobacco-use and other pro-tobacco imagery in movies and that more formal, industry-wide policies are needed."

To encourage this process, CDC editorial announced that  it "will now track and report annually on tobacco use imagery in youth-oriented movies as a core surveillance ... [that] will be added to regular CDC reports to the public on smoking prevalence among youth and adults, total and per-capita cigarette consumption, and progress on tobacco control policies."

The CDC goes on to say "... the movie industry has a responsibility to protect our youth from exposure to tobacco use and other pro-tobacco imagery in movies
that are produced and rated as appropriate for children and adolescents. Eliminating tobacco imagery in movies is an important step that should be easy to take."

This action puts the smoking that the big media companies put in their movies on the same category as other disease vectors.

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