Ad 95

The Hollywood Reporter, Variety
Date of first publication: 
Six powerful media companies have delivered 850,000 American kids to the tobacco industry. One conference call would have saved them all.
Parent companies in ad: 
Six powerful media companies have delivered 850,000 American kids to the tobacco industry. 21st Century Fox Comcast Disney Sony Time Warner Viacom Tobacco impressions delivered by company’s kid-rated films, 2007-12: 8.4 billion 3.2 billion 6.2 billion 11.3 billion 12.2 billion 9.9 billion Share of American kids recruited to smoke: 141,000 54,000 104,000 188,000 202,000 165,000 One conference call would have saved them all. Since Capitol Hill urged Hollywood to take action in 2007, five of the six major studios have published policies intended to reduce smoking in their kid-rated films. So why do half of PG-13 movies still feature tobacco? And why is audience exposure to kid-rated smoking on the rise for the third year in a row? The World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state Attorneys General have all called for the American film industry to eliminate smoking in movies rated G, PG and PG-13. Those recommendations are based on rigorous studies involving thousands of young people in more than a dozen countries. All of these studies found that smoking in movies causes kids to smoke. Mainstream Hollywood films account for nearly 40% of all new, young smokers in the United States: 160,000 kids annually, of whom 60,000 will ultimately die from tobacco-induced cancer or heart and lung disease. That means, in the past six years, MPAA member companies and independent film producer-distributors have delivered a million adolescent smokers to the US tobacco industry. More than 300,000 tobacco deaths will be seen in this group. Tobacco is different from other film content because it literally bought its way on screen. Hollywood and the tobacco industry have a long, documented history of commercial deals. Nothing today prevents any production company from taking an offshore tobacco payoff—or keeps a studio from benefiting from it. Memories may be short in Hollywood, but children never forget. What they see on screen today and tomorrow, as movies circulate endlessly on video and online, can shape and shorten their lives. Discouraging tobacco in the movies that kids see most, an R-rating for future movies with smoking could do more good, for more children, than any other single public health initiative. It’s time for leaders of America’s media companies to set up a conference call—and agree to future-proof their kid-rated movies in the global marketplace by making them smokefree. They can even say it was their idea.
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