Attitudes About Smoking in Movies

The Social Climate of Tobacco Smoking of The Social Science Research Center at the University of Mississippi describes itself “as a methodology to objectively measure the fundamental position of tobacco control in society and thereby provide a data collection system to monitor program impacts. The survey includes items to measure progress toward intermediate objectives such as policy changes, changes in social norms, reductions in exposure of individuals to environmental tobacco smoke, and rejection of pro-tobacco influences.” It has just published a research paper titled: Attitudes About Smoking in the Movies by Robert Mcmillen and Susanne Tanski.

Executive Summary of Attitudes About Smoking in the Movies:

More than a decade of research has established that U.S. movies are a major recruiter of new teen smokers in the United States: about 390,000 each year, of whom 120,000 will ultimately die from tobacco-related diseases unless current trends are altered. This national survey of adults demonstrates substantial and growing public and parental support for voluntary policy changes by Hollywood to reduce this toll, including an R-rating for almost all future tobacco scenes.

In 2006:

  • 80 percent of U.S. adults agree that smoking in movies influences teens to smoke.
  • 70 percent of adults call for R-ratings in movies that show smoking, unless the film clearly demonstrates the dangers of smoking or it is necessary to represent smoking of a real historical figure.
  • Public support for the R-rating increased by more than 10% from previous years.
  • Two-thirds of adults agree that movies should be required to show an anti-smoking
    advertisement before any film that includes smoking.
  • Support for policies encouraged by Smoke Free Movies has increased over the past three
    years, especially among smokers.
  • Support for these policies among parents is not significantly different from adults in general.
  • The “margin of error” for all adults surveyed is ±2.3%.The Motion Picture Association of America has recently announced revisions to its four-decade-old ratings system. However, these changes do not include tobacco imagery as a factor in R-ratings despite calls from leading U.S. and international health authorities to do so.

 

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