Smoking still too common in movies, US CDC says

* More than half of PG-13 movies show smoking

* Only one studio has no-smoking policy for youth films

WASHINGTON, Aug 19 (BestGrowthStock) – The number of U.S. movies
showing people smoking has declined since 2005, but cigarettes
still feature in far too many films and could be influencing
young people to take up the habit, according to a report
released on Thursday.

The report’s authors recommended that movie ratings also
consider whether the film depicts smoking and suggested strong
advertisements about the dangers of smoking precede movies that
show tobacco use.

“The results of this analysis indicate that the number of
tobacco incidents peaked in 2005, then declined by
approximately half through 2009, representing
the first time a decline of that duration and magnitude has
been observed,” the team at the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the University of California San
Francisco and elsewhere wrote.

“However, nearly half of popular movies still contained
tobacco imagery in 2009, including 54 percent of those rated
PG-13, and the number of incidents remained higher in 2009 than
in 1998,” they added in the CDC’s weekly report on death and
illness.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat
Edward Markey and Republican Joseph Pitts, who both serve on
the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote the Motion Picture
Association of America encouraging the industry to adopt
stronger anti-smoking measures.

“Exposure to onscreen smoking in movies increases the
probability that youths will start smoking. Youths who are
heavily exposed to onscreen smoking are approximately two to
three times more likely to begin smoking than youths who are
lightly exposed,” the CDC report reads.

The researchers counted each time tobacco use was shown in
the biggest-grossing films of 1991 to 2009.

“This analysis shows that the number of tobacco incidents
increased steadily after the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement
between the state attorneys general and the major cigarette
companies, in which the companies agreed to end brand
placement,” they wrote.

They said the Motion Picture Association of America had
done little to make changes but noted some studios had made
voluntary changes and said Viacom (VIAb.N: ) was the first
company whose movies rated for youth showed no use of tobacco
in 2009.

They suggested more policies could encourage filmmakers to
do better.

“Such policies could include having a mature content (R)
rating for movies with smoking, requiring strong antitobacco
ads preceding movies that depict smoking, not allowing tobacco
brand displays in movies, and requiring producers of movies
depicting tobacco use to certify that no person or company
associated with the production received any consideration
for that depiction,” they wrote.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by Julie Steenhuysen and
Mohammad Zargham)

Smoking still too common in movies, US CDC says