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New adolescent smokers recruited annually, by studio, and their value to the tobacco industry (1999-2008)*


of Teen Recruits

Number of Eventual Deaths

Sales Revenue (millions)

Tobacco Profit (millions)

Time Warner
News Corp.
*Revenue and profit = net present values. See analysis.

Analysis of 1,769 films released over the past 18 years established that:

• Most youth exposure to on-screen smoking occurs in youth-rated films, particularly PG-13. In 2008, PG-13 films delivered 65% of tobacco impressions (11.7 billion of the 18.1 billion impressions) and G/PG films delivered another 1% (200 million).

• The fraction of all films that are smokefree has been growing since the late 1990s, yet still remains below 50% even for youth-rated (G/PG/PG-13) films.

• Tobacco incidents per film have fallen by about half since 2005, led by youth-rated films. The total number of tobacco incidents on screen remains above levels seen in the late 1990s.

• The number of films with tobacco brands has, if anything, increased. Marlboro, the brand most frequently chosen by adlescent smokers, was displayed most often — accounting for 75% of brand display in 2008, for example.

By media company

• Tobacco incidents have nearly disappeared from Disney’s G and PG films.

• In recent years, around 75% of films released by GE (Universal) have featured tobacco — more than from any other major studio. In 2008, tobacco incidents per PG-13 film (on the rise) were as high as incidents per R-rated film (on the decline).

• Tobacco incidents in News Corp. (Fox) films have been relatively few in recent years. In three out of the last five years, 66% or more of News Corp.’s youth-rated films have been smokefree, a record rivaled only by Disney.

• Sony, one of the largest film producer-distributors, has shown no sustained change in tobacco content since the mid-1990s. No more than 40% of Sony’s PG-13 films were smokefree in any year.

• At Warner Bros., the prolific studio owned by Time Warner, tobacco incidents in youth-rated films declined between 2005 and 2007, but the trend reversed in 2008. Over the last three years, the percentage of Time Warner’s youth-rated films that were smokefree dropped below 50% to 39%.

• Viacom’s Paramount films have ranged between 25% and 50% smokefree since the late 1990s, displaying no real change.

• Independent producer-distributors (large and small) account for a growing number of theatrical releases. In 2008, indies included a record number of tobacco incidents in their youth-rated films: twice as many as in 2007 and nearly four times as many as in 2006. By last year, only about one in three youth-rated films released by independents was smokefree.

This film survey’s evidence of limited progress at some companies, and none at others, suggests that an industry wide solution, including R-rating future smoking, is needed to achieve substantial, permanent reductions in dangerous youth exposure to on-screen smoking.

Download Smoking Presentation Trends in U.S. Movies 1991-2008 by Kori Titus, Jonathan R. Polansky and Stanton Glantz, PhD, University of California-San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, February 2009.










See the full 2008 study for methods or view a step-by-step explanation.

DISNEY (Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax)

SMOKING OVERALL: 71% (176 of 249)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 60% (98 of 164)
SMOKING R-RATED: 92% (78 of 85)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 56% are youth-rated

Details | Disney Policy on Smoking in Movies | What it Really Means | Contact Disney


Merged with Viacom 2006-7. DreamWorks' pre-2006 film library, sold to a group headed by George Soros, is reported with Independents. 2006-7 productions reported with Viacom. 2008 and later releases reported with Independents.

GENERAL ELECTRIC (Universal, Focus)

SMOKING OVERALL: 79% (160 of 203)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 69% (74 of 108)
SMOKING R-RATED: 91% (86 of 95)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 46% are youth-rated

Details | Universal Policy on Smoking in Movies | What it Really Means | Contact General Electric

INDEPENDENTS (Lionsgate, Weinstein, and others)

SMOKING OVERALL: 74% (174 of 235)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 63% (76 of 120)
SMOKING R-RATED: 84% (97 of 1115)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 44% are youth-rated

Details | Contact Lionsgate or The Weinstein Company


SMOKING OVERALL: 62% (125 of 202)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 52% (68 of 131)
SMOKING R-RATED: 80% (57 of 71)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 55% are youth-rated

Details | Contact News Corp.

SONY (Sony, Columbia, MGM)

SMOKING OVERALL: 78% (254 of 326)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 74% (145 of 197)
SMOKING R-RATED: 84% (109 of 129)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 57% are youth-rated

Details | Contact Sony

TIME WARNER (Warner Bros., New Line)

SMOKING OVERALL: 70% (226 of 321)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 58% (101 of 175)
SMOKING R-RATED: 86% (125 of 146)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 45% are youth-rated

Details | Time Warner Policy on Smoking in Movies | What it Really Means | Contact Time Warner

VIACOM (Paramount)

SMOKING OVERALL: 77% (120 of 156)
SMOKING YOUTH-RATED: 69% (61 of 89)
SMOKING R-RATED: 88% (59 of 67)
OF SMOKING MOVIES, 49% are youth-rated

Details | Contact Viacom

Updated July 2009.

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