On Oscars Weekend, Urging Hollywood to Quit Smoking Onscreen and Off

February 22, 2013

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There will be plenty of glitz and glamour at the Academy Awards this weekend, but there’s one thing about the Oscars that’s not so glamorous: the continued prevalence of smoking in movies.

According to data compiled by Smoke Free Movies, a project of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), 61 percent of all Oscar-nominated films this year feature smoking – including 44 percent of youth-rated films.

In addition, after five years of decline, tobacco use (mostly smoking) in top box office movies in the U.S. increased seven percent from 2010 to 2011, according to a UCSF study published last year.

This is especially troubling as research has shown that the more smoking young people see in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking. The 2012 Surgeon General’s report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, concluded there is “a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people.”

That's why the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has endorsed Smoke Free Movies' efforts to reduce youth exposure to smoking in the movies, including an R-rating for any movie with non-historical smoking.

Sadly, the celebrities themselves are also lighting up off camera. As one blogger put it, “They may be the bold and beautiful ones but Hollywood's elite also have a nasty habit – smoking.”

To help Hollywood quit tobacco, representatives from GlaxoSmithKline, which makes quit-smoking products, are in Los Angeles for the Oscars this weekend. They’ll be asking movie stars to pledge to quit smoking and providing them with the support they need to succeed.

In addition, GSK is making a $10,000 contribution to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  We appreciate their support for our work and their efforts to help smokers quit.

“Tobacco use is the largest cause of preventable death and disease in the world and more needs to be done to help smokers quit,” said Christie Vergalito, GSK Associate Brand Manager. “We’re proud to be asking film industry professionals to lead by example and quit smoking through our Pledge to Quit initiative to help advance and improve public health.”

If those who make and star in movies set a more positive example – both onscreen and off – they can help prevent America’s youth from smoking.