Ontario Lung Association

Ontario Lung Association
Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies

Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies

April 05, 2012 08:00 ET

New Data Finds 85% of Films in Ontario That Feature Tobacco Are Rated for Children and Teen Audiences

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 5, 2012) - Smoking in movies plays a significant role in influencing youth tobacco initiation, a recent United States Surgeon General's report finds. The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies has collected data with support from Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California Sacramento-Emigrant Trails (USA), which finds 85 per cent of the top-grossing movies in 2011 that featured tobacco were rated for children and teen audiences in Ontario (G, PG, 14A). Evidence indicates the more children and teens see smoking in movies the more likely they are to start.

"Images of characters using tobacco in movies intended for children and teens are very powerful because they can make smoking seem like a normal, acceptable and even an attractive activity," said Andrea Kita, co-chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and project manager, Central West Tobacco Control Area Network. "Even though it has been reported that the number of tobacco images in movies has gone down in the USA, Ontario children and teens are still highly exposed to tobacco images given the differences in movie ratings in the USA compared to Ontario."

The Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB) assigns ratings for children and teen (G, PG, 14A) more often then the USA's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). In 2011, 85 per cent of top-grossing movies that contain tobacco were rated for children and teens (G, PG, 14A) in Ontario, compared to 56 per cent in the USA. As tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the province, it has been recommended that future movies containing smoking should be assigned an adult rating (18A) to help further reduce exposure of children and teens to on screen tobacco images.

"It doesn't matter if tobacco appears in the background or foreground, good guy or bad guy, all at once or a little over time. It's the repeated exposure that counts," said George Habib, president and chief executive officer, Ontario Lung Association. "Images of tobacco in movies are proven to encourage children and teens to start smoking."

To reduce child and teen exposure to on-screen smoking, the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies, including the Ontario Lung Association is also calling for the support of five actions:

  1. Give all new movies featuring smoking and tobacco use an adult rating (18A).
  2. Require strong anti-smoking ads prior to movies depicting tobacco use in all distribution channels.
  3. Certify no payoffs for displaying tobacco.
  4. Stop identifying tobacco brands.
  5. Require films with tobacco imagery assigned a youth-rating (P, PG, 14A) to be ineligible for government film subsidies.

For more information and access to tools to help Ontarians voice concerns about tobacco in children and teen-rated films, visit www.smokefreemovies.ca. Details regarding the smoking status of new movies released in theatre and on DVD or Blu-ray can be found at www.facebook.com/hookedbyhollywood.

About Ontario Lung Association

The Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information and funding for research to improve lung health. It focuses on the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease, tobacco control as well as healthy air and the effects of pollution on lung health. For information on lung health, call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or visit www.on.lung.ca. You can also follow them on Twitter @OntarioLung and Facebook.

About the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies

The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is a group of leading health organizations taking collective action to counter the harmful impact of smoking in youth-rated movies. Members of the coalition include the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Non-Smokers' Rights Association / Smoking and Health Action Foundation, Ontario Lung Association, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and the Ontario Tobacco Control Networks of Public Health Units. For more information, please visit www.smokefreemovies.ca.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Ontario Lung Association
    Karen Petcoff