Tobacco Depictions in Popular Movies Down Since 2005

But about half of top-grossing films still have tobacco imagery

MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The number of onscreen smoking incidents depicted in top-grossing U.S. movies has decreased substantially since 2005, though nearly half still contain tobacco imagery, according to research published in the Aug. 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues summarized a California report that counted the incidents of tobacco use in top-grossing U.S. movies between 1991 and 2009.

The researchers found that tobacco use in movies apparently peaked in 2005 and has declined progressively; 2009 top-grossing releases contained 49 percent of the on-screen tobacco incidents seen in 2005 (1,935 versus 3,967). Smoking, versus use of smokeless products, accounted for more than 99 percent of tobacco incidents. However, the researchers did find that almost half of popular movies in 2009 contained tobacco imagery, including 54 percent of PG-13 movies, and that the number of onscreen tobacco incidents in 2009 was higher than the number in 1998 (1,935 versus 1,612).

"Further reduction of tobacco use depicted in popular movies could lead to less initiation of smoking among adolescents. Effective methods to reduce the potential harmful influence of onscreen tobacco use should be implemented," the authors write.

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