March 22, 2019
Actors Light Up on Screen
Health News

Actors Light Up on Screen

by Berkeley Wellness  

Depictions of smoking or other tobacco use in movies are on an upswing, according to a new report published by the CDC, with researchers also from UC San Francisco and Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails (a nonprofit organization dedicated to clean air and healthy lungs).

Though the percent of top-grossing movies in the U.S. showing actors using tobacco decreased between 2010 and 2016 (that’s the good news), the number of “tobacco incidents” within films increased overall by 72 percent (from 1,824 to 3,145), after declines in previous years.

This is happening not just in R-rated movies, where there’s been a near-doubling of smoking depictions (1,230 to 2,332), but also in movies rated PG-13, where there’s been a 43 percent increase (564 to 809)—a particular public health concern, since watching actors light up on screen is known to convert young people into smokers.

A proposed intervention would be to assign an R-rating to movies that show tobacco use. At best currently, some movies carry a “rating descriptor” at the start that alerts viewers if they contain smoking (or other things like violence or nudity).

A silver(screen) lining is that smoking is rarely shown in G- and PG-rated movies and decreased from 30 to just 4 depictions between 2010 and 2016.

Also see The Best Food Scenes in Movie History.