A report released by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that the number of Hollywood movies that feature tobacco has dropped.

Tobacco In Hollywood Movies

The number of movie scenes that did show use of tobacco, however, increased by about 80 percent for the period between 2015 and 2016. Forty-one percent of the top-grossing films in the U.S in 2016 also showed people using tobacco.

Researchers used data from the Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! project of the Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, which advocates for clean air, healthy lungs, and tobacco-free communities.

They found that in 2016, 26 percent of the top movies that were rated G, PG, and PG-13 depicted tobacco use. The number of tobacco scenes were higher at 67 percent for R-rated movies.

Use of tobacco was depicted 1,743 times in 2015, which increased to 3,145 in 2016, marking an 80 percent increase in on-screen tobacco usage.

Potential Effect On Young People

The numbers raised concern from public health experts and advocates about the potential effects of tobacco depiction in movies on the behavior of young people.

"Tobacco use depictions are now uncommon in G and PG films; however, the 43% increase in the total number of tobacco-use incidents in PG-13 movies, from 564 in 2010 to 809 in 2016, is of particular public health concern because of the established causal relationship between youths' exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation," Michael Tynan, from the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, and colleagues wrote in the July 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The causal relationship between smoking on screen and cigarette smoking in real life has long been acknowledged. In 2012, the U.S. surgeon general released a report that illustrated that causal link between watching smoking in movies and young people starting to smoke.

"We've known for a while that the more you see smoking on screen, the more likely you are to see youth smoking cigarettes in real life," Tynan said.

Proposed Solutions

In a bid to improve regulation of tobacco depictions, the researchers suggested some measures for the movie industry, one of which is for the Motion Picture Association of America, which is tasked to give movie ratings, to give an R rating to movies with scenes of smoking or tobacco use.

Film studios may also be required to certify that they received no payment for using tobacco in the movies. State and local governments may likewise decline to provide subsidies to movies that depict tobacco.

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