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Youth spreading message that seeing smoking on-screen is no joke

Mar 30, 2017

Coalition urging for smoke-free youth-rated movies

TORONTO, ON (March 30, 2017) – Approximately 160 young people from across Ontario and New York will hit the streets of downtown Toronto on Saturday, April 1, 2017 to call for future movies showing tobacco use to be rated for adults – not kids and teens. This event, hosted by the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and Reality Check of New York, will kick off at 1:30pm in front of Metro Hall, as this group of young people will raise their voices and awareness about the dangers of on-screen smoking in movies for youth.

Studies show that the more kids and teens see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking. Overwhelming research demonstrates that 37 per cent of youth smokers in Ontario are recruited to become smokers by seeing smoking in the movies. In Ontario, 13,000 people die every year as a result of tobacco-related illnesses – the number one cause of preventable death and disease.

“Reports have shown that at least 185,000 children and teens under the age of 17 today living in Ontario will be recruited to smoke by their exposure to onscreen smoking. It’s shocking to think that the negative influence and manipulative imagery of this substance is not considered when determining the rating of a movie and judging its safety for youth,” says Tirthesha Pandya, a Young Adults Trainer.

The recent Oscars remind us that kids and teens in Ontario have a high exposure to onscreen tobacco imagery. Thirteen of the 15 Oscar nominations in major categories that showed smoking were rated for children and teens in Ontario (G, PG, 14A), while only eight were rated R in the US. From 2004-2014, not surprisingly due to different rating system criteria, 86 per cent of new movies released with tobacco in Ontario were youth-rated, and only 54 per cent in the US.

The Ontario Film Review Board’s mandate is to classify films to provide the public with information to make informed viewing choices for themselves and their children. The OFRB does not currently require movies with tobacco imagery to be rated 18A.

“We see the research and we know that 79 per cent of Ontarians are in support of not allowing smoking in movies rated for children and teens.  We also know that it is possible to protect young people from exposure to on screen smoking while allowing filmmakers to include smoking in films rated 18A in Ontario,” says George Habib, President and CEO of The Lung Association – Ontario.

About The Lung Association – Ontario

Breathing. It’s what unites us. It’s what inspires us. And it’s what keeps us pushing ahead, whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, helping people to quit smoking and ensuring that children never start, or fighting for clean air.