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Cigarettes In Movies

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How to Rate Cigarettes in Films

It is seen in so many movies today, a character lights up a cigarette on screen as they walk down the street, going about their lives. Usually, Americans wouldn't stop to think twice about it. It's something we see everyday. But how is seeing all of this smoking going on affecting adolescents? Many concerned parents think smoking in the movies puts cigarettes in a good light and encourages young people to start smoking. The amount of cigarette use in a movie should be considered in the ratings system in order to reduce the amount of smoking adolescents see in movies. (American Journal...)

Over the years anti-smoking activists have been trying to lower the number of Americans who smoke in many ways. By doing things like banning cigarette ads on television and replacing them with anti-smoking ads, the number of adults who smoke has declined significantly in the past ten years. The number of adolescents who smoke, however, has gone up. (Breathe...) It seems the way cigarettes are portrayed in popular entertainment is a major part of what is influencing so many young people to take up the habit. Not only is it illegal, but as many studies has shown, smoking is bad for their health. So, something needs to be done about kids being pressured to start smoking. (TRDRP)

Today, the ratings system for movies is based on things such as sexual content, language, and violence. There are limits to how much, if any, of this is allowed in a movie in order for it to be rated, G, PG, or PG-13. More and more movies made recently are given an R rating, but those films aren't as popular to the general public as they are hoped to be. The amount of money that a movie makes seems to be consistently higher in films rated PG and PG-13. This is because the R rating reduces the size of the audience that can see the film to people age 17 and older. Directors and film editors keep this in mind when making the final cuts on movies; if they keep the number of swear words below a certain number, they can keep the lower rating, and raise the size of their audience. If smoking was one of the things that affected the rating a film received, it would encourage film makers to reduce the number of scenes where cigarettes are used and hopefully, in some cases, keep smoking out of the film all together. (Motion Picture Association)

According to WebMD, every year 400,000 kids start smoking due to the influence of movies. (DeNoon) It used to be that characters seen smoking in movies were usually the bums or in general, the characters that were to be looked down upon, but in recent years, big tobacco has been working to "glamorize" the way cigarettes are portrayed on the big screen. In fact, the number of youth-orientated movies that include smoking in them had gone up by 50% since 1998. (Cancer Council) When a child sees his or her favorite actor on screen smoking a cigarette, it puts smoking in a positive light for them. Adolescents don't see that it is only a character in a movie; they see Brad Pitt or Demi Moore or Beyonce or any other actor or actress that they look up to with a cigarette in their hand. That is making it appear more acceptable or cool to smoke, influencing kids to try it themselves. Studies that have been done to show which kids had been exposed to smoking on screen showed that kids exposed to movies with smoking were 2.5 times more likely to smoke themselves. (American Journal...) As the effects of smoking in movies become more apparent, we need to do something about allowing the entertainment industry to show cigarettes in movies.

Movies have become a very popular form of advertisement for cigarette companies. In some films, tobacco companies pay for the use of their particular brand of cigarettes to be used in the movie. This type of advertisement is effective, and often overlooked. In one of the 007 movies, producers were paid 350,000 dollars for James Bond to smoke only Lark cigarettes in the movie. With a pay-off like that, filmmakers have more encouragement than ever to put cigarettes in every scene possible. If, however, the ratings system limited the audience if cigarettes are displayed, it would give the filmmakers a pull in the opposite direction, and keep smoking out of the movies. (The Foundation for...) According to facts, the brand Marlboro can be seen in a large percentage of the major Hollywood films in the past fifteen years. There is no proof that they are paying for this simple, overlooked form of advertising, but it seems to work. It is an effective way for companies to get their product seen without pushing it too forcefully at customers. If cigarette advertisement isn't allowed on television, shouldn't we do something to stop children from paying to be exposed to when they go to the movies? (Smoke Free Movies)

One argument opposing this addition to the ratings system are that it would just lead to more movies being given an R rating and kids would find a way to see them



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