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On-Screen Smoking Down (But Still High)

To monitor the extent to which tobacco use is shown in popular movies, Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! (TUTD), a project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, counted the occurrences of tobacco use (termed “incidents”) shown in U.S. top-grossing movies during 1991-2009. This report summarizes the results of that study, which found that the number of tobacco incidents depicted in the movies during this period peaked in 2005 and then progressively declined. Top-grossing movies released in 2009 contained 49% of the number of onscreen smoking incidents as observed in 2005 (1,935 incidents in 2009 versus 3,967 incidents in 2005). Further reduction of tobacco use depicted in popular movies could lead to less initiation of smoking among adolescents.

That’s from a new Centers for Disease Control report. A finer/further point from the report:

The results of this analysis indicate that the number of tobacco incidents peaked in 2005, then declined by approximately half through 2009, representing the first time a decline of that duration and magnitude has been observed. However, nearly half of popular movies still contained tobacco imagery in 2009, including 54% of those rated PG-13, and the number of incidents remained higher in 2009 than in 1998. This analysis shows that the number of tobacco incidents increased steadily after the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the state attorneys general and the major cigarette companies, in which the companies agreed to end brand placement.