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Cross-border Rally in Support of Smoke-free Youth-rated Movies

Feb 20, 2015

On eve of Academy Awards, youth from Canada, U.S. join forces to deliver stark message: Smoking on Screen Kills in Real Life

Niagara Falls, ON – On the eve of Hollywood’s big night, the annual Academy Awards ceremony, around 150 young people from Ontario and New York will create a living banner across the International Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls on Saturday, February 21, in support of smoke- free youth-rated movies.

The cross-border event, jointly organized by the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and Reality Check of New York, marks the end of the International Week of Action on Smoke-Free Movies.  The two groups want movies that depict smoking to be rated 18A (Ontario) and R (New York).

Niagara Falls will be lit up in the campaign colour – teal – on Friday and Saturday night.

At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, teal-clad youth participants from both sides of the border will unite on the Rainbow Bridge, forming a human ribbon that spells out the message “Smoking on Screen Kills in Real Life” – to highlight research showing that the more young people see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking and become addicted to nicotine.

“Parents always try to do and be the best for their children,” said Tirthesha Pandya, of Toronto, who will participate in Saturday’s Rainbow Bridge event. “What upsets me is that many parents have no idea that about 130,000 young Canadians aged 15 to 19 become addicted to tobacco products because of exposure to on-screen smoking.”

“Last year, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU) released a report showing that 57 per cent of the 1,434 top-grossing movies released in theatres from 2004 to 2013 featured on-screen smoking and delivered a total of 8.1 billion tobacco impressions,” said Andrea Kita, co-chair of the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies. “And 86 per cent of those were rated for youth in Ontario”.

“Violence, language, nudity, sexual activity, horror and psychological impact including substance abuse are among the criteria considered when assigning a movie rating,” she said. “To help prevent a new generation of smokers, movies for children and teens need to be tobacco-free.”

The OTRU report estimated that in an average year 13,241 Ontarians aged 12-17 are recruited to smoking by watching smoking in movies. It is projected that 4,237 of them will die prematurely as a result of tobacco imagery in movies.

“Requiring youth-rated movies to be smoke free will protect young people from exposure to smoking imagery while allowing filmmakers to include smoking in films rated 18A,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. “An 18A rating would give parents information about tobacco content in movies and allow them to make informed viewing choices for themselves and their children.”

To download HD video from Friday’s night’s lighting of Niagara Falls, as well as other Smoke-Free Movies video resources, go to: www.on.lung.ca/niagara/

Note:  the Niagara Falls video will be available after 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 21.

To access tools to voice concerns about tobacco in children and teen-rated movies and for more information, visit www.smokefreemovies.ca.

About the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies
The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is an alliance of leading health organizations taking collective action to counter the harmful impact of smoking in youth-rated movies. Members of the coalition include the Ontario Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Non-Smokers’ Rights Association/Smoking and Health Action Foundation, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and the Ontario Tobacco Control Networks of Public Health Units. For more information, please visit www.smokefreemovies.ca

Media Contact
Daniel Paquette
dpPR
416-413-7714 | dp@dppr.ca
On-site Media Contact
John Chenery
Ontario Lung Association
647-293-9911 | jchenery@on.lung.ca