Ad 12

Publication(s): 
Variety
Date of first publication: 
2002-10-30T00:00:00
Headline: 
Movie stars don't have to find a cure for cancer. But at least they could stop causing it.
Text: 
Movie stars don't have to Find a cure for cancer. But at least they could stop causing it. Big Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death. Yet stars like Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt glamorize its deadly products by smoking on screen in films shown worldwide. Think how much good they could do if they simply quit smoking in their movies. Given the evidence, wouldn't you? Over the next twelve months, the tobacco industry will kill more women and men in the U.S. than AIDS, drunk driving, illegal drugs, homicide and suicide combined. Over the next ten years, more than fifty million people will die of tobacco-related diseases worldwide: heart disease, emphysema, cancer. One in seven kids worldwide gets hooked by age fifteen. Most want to quit now; most will fail. One in three will end up dead from their addiction. Every day in the United States, two thousand more teens become addicted to tobacco. Smoking is growing even faster in the developing world, where awareness of the dangers is lowest and Big Tobacco's marketing tactics are uncontrolled. Both in the U.S. and overseas, American movies are a key vehicle for promoting tobacco addiction. On screens as big as billboards and on millions of videos, U.S. movies in the 1990s showed more smoking than in half a century - with more stars promoting specific brands. 80% of top-grossing PG13 movies and video releases from 1996 to 2000 featured smoking. Tobacco's screen time in those youth-targeted movies climbed 50% over the same period. Just how influential are stars who smoke? Recent studies show that if a teenager's favorite movie star smokes on screen, he or she is significantly more likely to actually start smoking - even if friends and family don't. Big Tobacco knows the power of movies. Ten years ago, it was paying to place its products on screen while denying it to Congress. It denies paying today, too. But do tobacco companies even pretend to protest when trademarked brands appear in the hands of stars like Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt? Don't hold your breath. Either stars are trading favors with Big Tobacco, in which case they're corrupt. Or they're pumping up Big Tobacco's profits for free, in which case they're stupid. As more young fans realize that nothing winds up on screen by accident, they're asking stars to stop doing Big Tobacco's dirty work. The stars owe it to their audience to listen. Here are other powerful ways for Hollywood to get unhooked from Big Tobacco: Roll on-screen credits in smoking films certifying that nobody on a production accepted anything of value from any tobacco company, its agents or fronts. Run strong anti-tobacco ads in front of smoking movies. On tapes and DVDs, too. Strong spots are proven to immunize audiences. Quit identifying tobacco brands in the background or in action. Brand names are unnecessary. Rate new smoking movies "R" to give parents more power to protect children against the tobacco industry.
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