Smoking in Films Influence Children

ByWASHINGTON

Feb. 12, 2007— -- According to a new survey, 81 percent of adults in the United States agree adolescents are more likely to smoke if they watch actors smoke in movies, and 70 percent support a new R-rating for any movies with on-screen tobacco imagery, unless the film clearly demonstrates the dangers of smoking.

The Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control is an annual poll of public attitudes about tobacco control policies. The American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance, the 26,000 grassroots arm of the AMA, joined researchers from Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center to make the announcement during the AMA's National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

According to the report, public concern over the issue of tobacco imagery on screen has grown substantially over the past year:

"This research is our latest effort to bring national attention to the harmful effects that smoking in movies has on our youth," said AMA Alliance President Nita Maddox. "As a parent myself, I am equally as concerned as the parents we surveyed about children's exposure to smoking on screen."

AMA Alliance members have launched a national, grassroots parent-to-parent campaign to clear tobacco imagery from future movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 by calling on the Motion Picture Association of American and movie studios to implement voluntary solutions to reduce youth's exposure to movie smoking.

The policies and the initiative, Screen Out, have been endorsed by several national public health organizations including the AMA, AMA Alliance, American Heart Association and the American Legacy Foundation.

"There is an overwhelming and consistent body of evidence that shows a clear link between smoking in movies and youth starting to smoke," said Robert McMillen, associate research professor at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center and lead author of the report.

"This national survey demonstrates substantial public and parental support for voluntary policy changes by Hollywood to reduce this toll, including R-rating for almost all future tobacco scenes."

In 2005, one-in-six top-grossing U.S. movies showed or mentioned an actual tobacco brand. Two out of three U.S. live action movies featured tobacco in 2006, including 68 percent of PG-13 films.

"Growing U.S. support for smoke free movies will protect young people not only here, in North America, but wherever U.S. movies dominate the media culture and wherever the tobacco industry is hunting its next generation," said Maddox. "When we get smoking out of youth-rated movies in Hollywood, it will be felt all the way to Kiev, Cape Town, Shanghai, and Djakarta."

The Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control is an annual poll of public attitudes toward tobacco policies. The 2006 survey of 1,800 adults nationwide has a margin of error of +- 2.3 percent. Results for the on-screen tobacco questions are available at a http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/socialclimate.

To learn more about the AMA Alliance's Screen Out! campaign, please visit the AMA Alliance at http://www.amaalliance.org.

The AMA Alliance, the volunteer arm of the American Medical Association, is committed to public health promotion in their organizational mission. A not-for-profit organization of more than 26,000 grassroots members working in their communities, the AMA Alliance strives to ensure child safety, prevent abuse and violence, promote healthy lifestyles, and increase awareness of available health care resources.

The SSRC was established in 1950 and has 50 research fellows and approximately 100 research associates. Through its Survey Research Unit, formed in 1981, it conducts approximately 25 research projects each year, many of which focus on social and cultural dimensions of health. Research at the center is sponsored by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Transportation, among others.

SOURCE AMA Alliance

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