Every year, leading up to the Academy Awards, tobacco control partners participate in the International Week of Action to educate about the importance of keeping tobacco use out of movies that are rated for youth. Rating smoking R can be a crucial tool for reducing youth smoking initiation.
The more that youth are exposed to tobacco use, the more likely they are to become tobacco users, according the U.S. surgeon general. Seeing their favorite characters on the big screen smoking, vaping or using tobacco products can influence kids to take up the deadly habit themselves. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and 90 percent smokers start by the age of 18. Postponing the visual exposure of smoking in movies until after this age can help keep youth from a lifetime of addiction.
In this Oscar season, 86 percent of the nominated movies have smoking in them, and kid-rated films have twice as much smoking as 2017 nominees. As a result, this year’s International Week of Action, held from Feb. 25 to March 4, was used to encourage people to request that the entertainment industry rate movies featuring smoking as restricted (R). Participants are encouraged to use the social media hashtag #HelpOscarQuit and write letters to major production companies and film studios.
Brigid Heenan
Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes