Making kid-rated movies smoke-free would prevent one million tobacco deaths in this generation of U.S. kids. Hollywood studios and their parent entertainment companies are well aware of the public health risk, but continue to expose millions of kids to tobacco.
Tobacco Free Funds Launched; Investors Demand Action from Hollywood
As You Sow has launched Tobacco Free Funds, an innovative search platform that makes it easy to find out if your money is invested in the tobacco industry or in entertainment companies that promote tobacco use.
Entertainment companies promote smoking by showing tobacco in movies. These tobacco images cause kids to begin smoking, according to the US Surgeon General and CDC. In 2015, 38% of top-grossing kid-rated movies (P, PG, and PG-13) featured smoking. Keeping tobacco out of kid-rated movies would prevent more than 1,000,000 tobacco deaths in this generation of kids according to public health experts.
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Investors worth $64 billion have joined As You Sow’s open letter to the entertainment industry, urging the industry to make kid-rated movies smoke-free link.
TRY IT NOW: Search your investments for tobacco companies and entertainment companies that promote smoking.
Read the press release here.
Exposure to onscreen smoking in movies is the single largest factor promoting youth smoking in the United States, accounting for about 44% of all new smokers.
In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General reviewed extensive scientific literature and concluded that exposure to smoking on screen causes kids to smoke. This seminal report concluded that an R-rating for future movies with smoking would lower teen smoking rates by 18 percent and prevent one million tobacco deaths among kids alive today.
In July 2017, CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) noted that “the steady decline in the number of tobacco incidents in youth-rated movies from 2005–2010 stopped after 2010” and re-affirmed the necessity for R-rating movies with smoking. The CDC report, covered in the New York Times, credited investors with helping to reduce tobacco imagery in kid-rated movies.
However, the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade group for the major studios that governs the US movie rating system, has repeatedly refused to adopt the R-rating for smoking.
In August 2017, 17 leading U.S. health organizations (including American Cancer Society and medical organizations representing more than 630,000 doctors) demanded that movie producers, distributors and exhibitors apply an R rating to all films that include depictions of smoking or tobacco.
Disney leads the industry in reducing tobacco impressions
Disney strengthened its tobacco policy in 2015 to “prohibit smoking in movies across the board [in] Marvel, Lucas, Pixar [and] Disney films.” Disney’s policy still allows smoking in movies distributed under its Touchstone label, most recently used to market DreamWorks productions. In 2016, only one out of 13 youth-rated films released by Disney included tobacco imagery.
By 2013, all major movie studios or their parent companies had adopted tobacco depiction policies that may discourage but do not eliminate smoking in their youth-rated movies. Sizeable loopholes in these policies, such as allowing smoking for “creative” reasons, have prevented smoking incidents in PG-13 films industry-wide from falling since 2010. In 2016, more than one in three PG-13 movies from MPAA-member studios still featured smoking.
Other studios lag far behind Disney
Among the major studios, Sony ranks as the smokiest: 44 percent of Sony’s youth-rated movies from 2013 to 2016 feature smoking. Lionsgate follows with 41 percent of youth-rated movies showing tobacco use. By comparison, Disney and Disney owned labels showed tobacco use in 12% of their movies over the past five years. All other studios (Universal, Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros.) had between 28-38% of movies with tobacco use — at least double that of Disney.
See the full data comparing studios here.