While smoking rates continue to drop across the country, it is probably fair to say that more often than not the first mind altering substance that people try are cigarettes. Smoking continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable disease in developed nations, yet people continue to smoke regardless of the potential consequences. In the United States, there are a number of restrictions on tobacco advertising in an attempt to limit young people’s exposure to products that contain nicotine. However, there are still a number of areas where we could do better with regard to education, prevention and potential media exposure which casts the addictive products in a glamorous light.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to give adult ratings to movies that feature smoking, CNBC reports. The WHO report “Smoke-Free Movies: From Evidence to Action,” points out that 44 percent of all Hollywood films in 2014 showed smoking, and 36 percent of films that featured smoking were rated for people under the age of 18.
“Because smoking on screen is uniquely vivid and because young people see so many films so often, its effect in promoting smoking initiation is striking,” the report said. “The most vulnerable age group, adolescents, should not continue to be exposed to the most powerful promotional channel for smoking imagery available in today’s globalized economy.”
WHO would also like anti-smoking ads to be aired before any film that features smoking, according to the article. On top of that, the United Nations (UN) agency believes that films should no longer exhibit actual tobacco brands. Studies indicate that in the U.S., exposure to tobacco in films accounts for 37 percent of all new teenage smokers.
“With even tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, film remains one of the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions,” said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, the Director of WHO’s Department of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, in a news release.