FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Tobacco and Hollywood

 

Among the greatest unsung public health advances of recent times is progress made against the global cigarette industry.

In the United States, cigarette smoking is finally on the decline. The courts have ruled the tobacco industry to be “racketeers.” Smokefree spaces, including not just workplaces but restaurants and bars, are proliferating, reducing the harms of second-hand smoke and encouraging millions to quit. States are raising cigarette taxes, reducing smoking and raising funds for important public health programs.

Internationally, progress is speeding even faster. A global treaty, the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is encouraging countries to adopt far-reaching anti-smoking measures, including bans on all cigarette advertisements. Countries are emulating and surpassing the smokefree initiatives in the United States — even Irish pubs are now smokefree!

But despite all the public health gains, Big Tobacco is still on the move, addicting millions more smokers. And the industry has some unfortunate allies.

One important cultural ally of Big Tobacco is Hollywood. Smoking in youth-rated movies in on the rise, and it has demonstrable effects on smoking rates.

According to researchers at the University of California San Francisco
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, smoking appears even more in Hollywood movies released with G/PG/PG-13 than in R-rated films. Altogether, 75 percent of all U.S. releases have smoking scenes.
One cartoon film now on DVD, The Ant Bully, includes 41 tobacco scenes.

Researchers have found that viewing smoking in movies makes it far more likely that children will take up the habit — controlling for all other relevant factors (such as whether parents and peers smoke).

Think about it–the movies are glamorous, and they portray smoking as glamorous, whether or not it is a good guy or bad guy lighting a cigarette.

The public health advances against Big Tobacco are due in significant part to effective efforts to vilify the industry. When children especially appreciate how the companies are manipulating them, they resist. Hollywood’s glorification of smoking works directly against this.

U.S. films bring in 30 percent of movie box office sales globally, and
Hollywood’s contribution to smoking is significant overseas, where the tobacco epidemic is worst. Ten million people are expected to die every year from smoking-related disease by 2025, 70 percent of them in developing countries. Hollywood movies have gigantic appeal overseas, often with even greater cultural influence than in the United States.
They appeal exactly to the demographic most likely to take up smoking –
urbanized, middle-class youth who aspire to Western lifestyles.

This is an easy problem to cure. Leading U.S. health groups and the
United Nation’s World Health Organization have urged Hollywood to adopt
R-ratings for movies with tobacco scenes (with exceptions where the presentation of tobacco clearly and unambiguously reflects the dangers and consequences of tobacco use or is necessary to represent the smoking of a real historical figure), to air anti-tobacco spots before films with tobacco imagery, to certify that movies with tobacco received no tobacco industry pay-offs, and to stop identifying tobacco brands in movies. None of these measures involves any “censorship.”

The industry has resisted.

This week, leading up to the 79th Annual Academy Awards, public health groups and agencies from New York and Los Angeles, from Liverpool and
Sydney have mobilized to demand that Hollywood end its complicity with Big Tobacco.

In Washington, DC, representatives of the Smokefree Movies Action
Network, dressed in biohazard suits, called on the Motion Picture Association of America to remove “toxic” tobacco content from youth rated films. They presented the MPAA with a “golden coffin.”

The trade association’s representatives declined to accept the award.

The celebration of film at the Oscars reminds us of Hollywood’s reach. That’s exactly why it is so important to get smoking out of kid-rated films.

For more information about tobacco in Hollywood, the evidence of harm, and the widely endorsed policy solutions, visit
www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu.

RALPH NADER is the author of The Seventeen Traditions

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
Christopher Brauchli
Banking, Wells Fargo-Style
Jeff Mackler
After Week-Long Strike, Oakland Teachers’ Contract Falls Short
Chuck Collins
Bring Back Eisenhower Socialism!
Binoy Kampmark
Grounding Boeing
James Munson
Why Are We Still Sycophants?
Jill Richardson
Politicians Are Finally Catching Up on Marijuana
Warren Alan Tidwell
Disasters Don’t Discriminate, But Disaster Recovery Does
Robert Koehler
Artifial Morality
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Goodenough Island in MacArthur’s Wake
Alex McDonald
U.S. Iran Policy: What is Great?
Tracey L. Rogers
Stop Making Women Apologize
John Sarbanes – Michael Brune
To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up DC First
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail