Way back in 2007, the New York Times reported that Hollywood studios were saying no to smoking in the movies, but that wasn’t exactly a permanent trend. While smoking in public spaces has dramatically declined, relegated mostly to smoking in the boys’ room and Vegas casinos, it hasn’t disappeared from the movies. The CDC, in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, just released a new report on smoking in the movies—and smoking on screen is on the rise.
The study found that the number of tobacco incidents in top-grossing movies increased by 72% between 2010 and 2016. What’s more, almost half of the movies with tobacco references were aimed at young people. Don’t expect to see Nemo and Dory lighting up after a hard day’s work, though: On-screen tobacco use in G and PG movies has dropped 87% since 1991. However, when it comes to PG-13 films, there was a 43% jump in showing tobacco use, while R-rated movies showed a 90% rise since the 1990s.
As the CDC notes, there is a causal link between kids seeing smoking in the movies and starting to smoke themselves. When kids are heavily exposed to on-screen smoking, they are about two to three times as likely to take up the nasty habit, as opposed to kids who receive less exposure. As we reported last week, smokers who pick up the habit before the age of 25 may find it nearly impossible to quit.