CDC releases latest data on tobacco in Hollywood

On April 6, 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the majority (59%) of PG-13 films showed smoking and other tobacco use between 2002 and 2015.

"Smoking in the Movies"—the CDC's annual report on the amount of onscreen smoking in movies as a "core surveillance indicator" of the nation's health—also concludes that R-rating future movies with smoking would "prevent 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today."

The CDC notes performance differences among Hollywood studios. From 2010 to 2015, youth-rated tobacco incidents climbed in films from Disney, Fox and independent companies, and declined in films from Comcast, Sony, Time Warner, and Viacom.

While all the major studios belonging to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have tobacco-depiction policies, the CDC reports, their youth-rated films featured about as much smoking in 2015 as in 2010.

Breathe California and the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education also released their report, Smoking in Top-grossing US Movies, 2015, on April 6.

Its top line? "Despite declines in 2015 on-screen smoking, levels of smoking in youth-rated films remain substantial and most metrics are unimproved over the levels of 2010."

This year's report highlights the fact that independent (non-MPAA) film companies' share of youth-rated films with smoking nearly doubled from 23 percent in 2002 to 39 percent in 2015.

"Only the proposed R-rating can cover all companies and all films, and protect all children and adolescents by making the films they see smokefree," Breathe California and UCSF observe.

The analysis also found that just eight percent of top-grossing, youth-rated films with tobacco released between 2012 and 2015 would have qualified for an exception to the R-rating because they depicted only actual historical figures smoking or showed the real health consequences of tobacco use.

View or download:

US Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking in the movies: 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Atlanta, GA. 6 April 2016.

Polansky JR, Titus K, Atayeva R, Glantz SA. Smoking in top-grossing US movies, 2015. UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. San Francisco, CA. 6 April 2016.