1 Global health treaty backs smokefree movies | 180 countries are parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in force since 2005. The FCTC calls for implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based tobacco control strategies. Article 13 calls for an effective ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in all media. Article 13's guidelines explicitly call for:
- Film producers to certify no tobacco pay-offs
- Ending tobacco brand display on screen
- Anti-tobacco advertisements before any film or program depicting tobacco
- Adult film ratings that keep the movies kids see tobacco-free.
2 WHO targets public subsidies for smoking films | In 2010, mounting evidence led WHO to find that public subsidies for media productions with tobacco are 'counter to WHO FCTC Article 13 and its guidelines.' In the four years from 2010 to 2013, more than a dozen nations awarded movies with smoking nearly $2.2 billion in tax credits. These films delivered 200 billion tobacco impressions to theater audiences alone, worldwide.
3 Tobacco deals outside the US remain unrestricted | While the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement in the US prohibits domestic tobacco firms from placing brands on screen, movies remain the last unrestricted channel for promoting tobacco to kids worldwide. Hollywood shoots and finances films around the world; US tobacco companies license their brands around the world. Both industries chase the same young customers. Only if countries address smoking in movies — mostly exported from the US — can they end the tobacco epidemic projected to kill a billion people in this century.
4 Heavy-smoking R-rated films are dumped into youth markets overseas | On average, films R-rated in the US include twice as much smoking as PG-13 films. Yet other countries' rating systems that are less restrictive that the US about sexual content leave R-rated movies open to teenagers younger than 17. This means that teens in Canada, the UK, and the European Union likely get more exposure to on-screen smoking than their US peers. 'Down-rating' may hand US movie studios a box office windfall, but everyone else faces a bigger health care bill.
5 Smokefree Movies' international week of action | Every year, leading up to the Academy Awards telecast in late February, members of the Smokefree Movies action network unite on a message to make news. From Nigeria to the UK, Canada to New Zealand, demonstrations, social media campaigns, and paid advertising score public attention just when Hollywood tries to put on the glitz. Keep in touch and you'll become part of a global movement with a focused strategy for change. Let's hear your ideas!