Film makers should show they accepted no gifts from tobacco industryBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7539.440-b (Published 23 February 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:440
Film makers should show they accepted no gifts from tobacco industry
Smoking in films has gone back up to the level of 1950, a review has found. The authors’ finding prompted them to demand that film producers be required to show that neither they nor anyone connected with their film accepted any inducements from the tobacco industry.
The review says that the amount of smoking in films has increased rapidly since the 1990s, reversing a previous downward trend. It says that the level in 2002 was similar to that seen in 1950 (Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2006:5:73-84).
"Content analyses, focus groups, psychological experiments, and epidemiologic studies provide a consistent chain of evidence that smoking in the movies leads adolescents to hold more pro-tobacco attitudes and beliefs and is associated with a dose-response relationship to subsequent smoking behaviour," the review says.
The authors, Annemarie Charlesworth and Stanton Glantz, from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, recommend that all film producers should be required to certify that no one connected with making a film "accepted anything of value from the tobacco industry, its agents or fronts, to put smoking or other tobacco promotions in a film."
It says that smoking is more common in films than in real life, and that in contrast to true patterns of smoking—where smoking is concentrated among lower socioeconomic groups—film characters who smoke are primarily white, male, and from upper socioeconomic groups.
The review cites research showing that smoking in films peaked in the 1950s and then fell from 1950 until 2002, from an average of 10.7 smoking events an hour in 1950 to a low of 4.9 in 1980-2, increasing to 10.9 in 2002. It points to data showing that from 1950 to 2000 the prevalence of smoking among adults in the United States fell from 44% to 22.8%.
The authors say risk calculations have indicated that films account for around 390 000 new teenage smokers in the US a year. "Perhaps not by chance, this figure is almost enough to replace the 400 000 active smokers whom the tobacco industry kills every year," they write.
They say that characters in films who smoke reinforce the same kind of associations that are widely made use of in tobacco advertising, including glamour and coolness. "Smoking in the movies also helps to establish the perception that smoking is normal, prevalent, and even desirable in society. The fact that smoking is more prevalent in the movies than in real life and that smoking in films is rarely associated with any negative outcomes encourages tolerance for smoking in society and reinforces smoking as a desirable behaviour," the article says.
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