After several years of decline, smoking imagery in youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13) increased 36 percent in 2011. PG-13 movies are the biggest concern since they account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen. In 2011, eight of the 10 biggest hits at the box office were rated PG-13, which is the rating most widely sought after to maximize a movie's potential audience. Of those movies rate PG-13, three contained smoking imagery including "Transformers: Dark of the Moon;" "Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol;" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
The most effective, least intrusive way to cut tobacco exposure would be to rate future movies with smoking in them R. Producers would simply reserve the smoking for their R-rated films, the way they now routinely regulate other content. Movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 would be smoke-free, cutting teens' risk from on-screen smoking in half. Hollywood's rating system doesn't cost taxpayers a dime. Yet the R's result will rank among the most important public health advances of our time. One letter can now save thousands of lives.
For more information on how people can take action, visit Reality Check today to celebrate its Smoke-Free Movie Day. The group will have a free showing of "Escape from Planet Earth" at the Emerald Cinemas at noon and at the Johnstown MoviePlex at 4:30 p.m. People will get in on a first-come, first-served basis. If people have any questions, call 762-8313.
Program coordinator for Reality Check