On a hot summer day, going to the movies is one way to beat the heat. The problem is that many popular movies contain images of people smoking.
Almost 80% of films nominated for a 2019 Oscar featured tobacco imagery, including two-thirds of youth-rated films. Tobacco images are also showing up in video games and popular TV programs.
Research has shown that adolescents who saw more smoking imagery were nearly three-times more likely to start smoking than those who saw less. These images help to renormalize tobacco use. We need to protect our young people from the temptation to take on a life-threatening and expensive habit. Giving movies and video games that contain smoking images an R rating can help parents better monitor what their kids see.
For help becoming tobacco-free, talk to your doctor and contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at (866) 697-8487 or nysmokefree.com.
Robert Block
University of Rochester