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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Tobacco Use in Top-Grossing Movies — United States, 2010–2016.

Thursday, July 13, 2017  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Tynan MA, Polansky JR, Titus K, Atayeva R, Glantz SA.
Tobacco Use in Top-Grossing Movies — United States,  2010–2016.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:681-686.
The Surgeon General has concluded that there is a causal relationship between depictions of  smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young persons (1). The more youths see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to start smoking; youths who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking imagery are approximately two to three times as likely to begin smoking as are youths who receive less exposure (1,2). A Healthy People 2020 objective is to reduce the proportion of youths exposed to onscreen tobacco marketing in movies and television (Tobacco Use Objective 18.3) (3). To assess the recent extent of tobacco use imagery in youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13*), 2010–2016 data from Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! (TUTD), a project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails were analyzed and compared with previous reports.† In 2016, 41% of movies that were among the 10 top-grossing movies in any calendar week included tobacco use, compared with 45% in 2010. Among youth-rated movies, 26% included tobacco use in 2016 (including 35% of PG-13 movies) compared with 31% in 2010 (including 43% of PG-13 movies). The steady decline in the number of tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies from 2005–2010 stopped after 2010.
The total number of individual occurrences of tobacco use in a movie (tobacco incidents) in top-grossing movies increased 72%, from 1,824 in 2010 to 3,145 in 2016, with an increase of 43% (from 564 to 809) occurring among PG-13 rated movies. Reducing tobacco use in youth-related movies could help prevent the initiation of tobacco use among young persons. TUTD counts occurrences of tobacco incidents, defined as the use or implied use of a tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookah, smokeless tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes) by an actor, in U.S. top-grossing movies each year. Trained monitors count all tobacco incidents in those movies that are among the 10 top-grossing movies in any calendar week of the year. Previous reports have used this criterion because U.S. movies ranked in the 10 top-grossing movies for at least 1 week have accounted for 96% of U.S. ticket sales (46). At least two monitors independently evaluate each film; any differences are resolved by a supervisor who independently watches the film using the same protocol. Incidents of implied use have been rare and occur when a person is handed or is holding, but does not necessarily use, a tobacco product. A new incident was counted each time 1) a tobacco product went off screen and then came back on screen; 2) a different actor was shown with a tobacco product; or 3) a scene changed and the new scene contained the use or implied use of a tobacco product.

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