Smoking in US movies declines

Updated: 2011-07-16 07:58

By Karin Zeitvogel (China Daily)

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Tobacco use also falls among teens

WASHINGTON - The number of US movies in which an actor lights up fell sharply between 2005 and 2010, and this could have contributed to the decline in smoking among US teens, a study released on Thursday says.

A majority of movies - 55 percent - that scored huge box office success in the United States in 2010 had no scenes that included tobacco use, compared with a third of top-grossing films in 2005, according to the study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the same six-year period, the number of what are called "tobacco incidents" in top-grossing movies fell by 56 percent - but still clocked in at nearly 2,000 scenes where an actor used tobacco either openly, on screen, or implicitly, off-screen, the study says.

"The percentages of 2010 top-grossing movies with no tobacco incidents were the highest observed in two decades," the CDC says in the study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"The decreased presence of onscreen smoking might have contributed to the decline in cigarette use among middle school and high school students," it says.

A study released last year by the CDC found that the percentage of middle school students in the United States who smoked cigarettes fell from 11 percent to 5 percent between 2000 and 2009 and those who "experimented" with cigarettes fell from nearly 30 percent to 15 percent.

Use of other tobacco products, such as cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco, was also down among middle schoolers, generally between the ages of 11 and 14.

Among high school students, smoking was down, too, although less sharply, the 2010 study showed.

Seventeen percent of high school students smoked cigarettes in 2009 compared with 28 percent in 2000, while three in 10 high schoolers tried smoking two years ago, compared with nearly four in 10 in 2000.

An analysis of four studies linked 44 percent of teens who started smoking with seeing tobacco products being used in movies, the CDC said in the study. Most people start to smoke or use smokeless tobacco products when they are teens, the CDC added.

With studies pointing to a link between less smoking on the silver screen and fewer teens taking up smoking, the US Department of Health and Human Services has made reducing youth exposure to on-screen smoking part of its 2010 strategic plan to cut tobacco use.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 07/16/2011 page6)