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Research has found that exposure to smoking in movies causes young people to smoke1. In other words, the more kids and teens see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start. They are also more likely to progress to regular smoking.2
The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU), estimated 37% of youth smoking in Ontario is due to seeing onscreen smoking exposure. This may be because young people see their favourite actor using a tobacco product in a movie and then think smoking is a cool thing to do.1
Children and youth are easily influenced, and they copy behaviours that they see (whether it is in real life or in movies). An estimated 13,200 current smokers in Ontario aged 12 to 17 years old were recruited to smoking in a year because of watching smoking in movies. It’s predicted that 4,200 of these young smokers will die prematurely as a result of tobacco use in movies.
A study done by the OTRU found that 54% of the top-grossing movies from 2004 to 2016 in Ontario included tobacco imagery, while 86% of these movies were rated for youth.
Parents and caregivers can join Public Health Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies in the fight to protect children and teens from the impact of smoking in movies.
- Get informed about the evidence around smoking in movies and the impact of smoking and tobacco use in movies can have on kids and teens.
- Be aware of what your kids are watching and learn which movies contain smoking. Information about tobacco content in new movie releases can be found at the Smoke Free Movies website.
- Talk with your children about tobacco use in movies and teach them how to be media aware. If your child does watch a movie that contains smoking, be sure to talk to them about the health risks associated with tobacco use.
1. World Health Organization. (2015). Smoke-free movies: from evidence to action, 3rd Edition. Geneva, Switzerland.
2. Luk R and Schwartz R. (2017). Youth Exposure to Tobacco in Movies in Ontario, Canada: 2004-2016. OTRU Special Report. Toronto, ON: Ontario Tobacco Research Unit.