UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - UKNSCC
2009 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - London more...

Smoking in the movies
Stanton Glantz, Professor of Medicine and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, UCSF Co-Leader, Tobacco Control Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, San Francisco, USA


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Stanton Glantz

Onscreen smoking in movies is the largest stimulus for adolescent smoking initiation, even after accounting for parental and peer influences, gender, age, many other personal characteristics and exposure to cigarette advertising and accounts for about half the smoking initiation in the USA. In the USA, about 60% of exposure to onscreen smoking comes from youth-rated (mostly US ‘PG-13’) films. A mature content rating (‘R’ in the USA; ‘18’ in the UK) would substantially reduce youth exposure and, so, youth smoking. The WHO and a wide range of organisations around the world have endorsed an adult content rating for onscreen smoking.

Smoking in movie probably accounts for an even larger fraction of new smokers in the UK, because (1) conventional tobacco advertising has been banned, and (2) more movies with smoking receive a youth rating (BBFC ‘15’ and lower) than in the US, resulting in a substantially larger dose of onscreen smoking being delivered to youth. In light of the science, under the BBFC’s current standard, which states that ‘where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society,’ it should be rating onscreen tobacco use 18, but has refused to do so. Because the BBFC is only advisory to local councils, some are responding to the BBFC’s failure to follow their own guidelines by considering imposing their own ‘18’ rating. Such an action would have major public health benefits locally and set a strong example for others around the world.


About the presenter
Dr Glantz is Professor of Medicine and American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control in the Division of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Institute for Health Policy Studies and Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California San Francisco, where he directs the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, a WHO Collaborating Center. He published the first research showing that large a large-scale policy oriented tobacco control program was associated not only with a drop in smoking, but also heart disease deaths and health care costs and that smokefree policies are associated with a rapid drop in acute myocardial infarctions.

He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2005. He conceived of and has been leading the Smoke Free Movies campaign since 2001.


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