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November 01, 2019

Smoking on screen has increased by 120% in PG-13 movies since 2010, new research says

Despite a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in movies and initiation, smoking in film is steadily increasing

Adult Health Smoking
Teen_smoking Amritanshu Sikdar/Unsplash

Depictions of smoking in film has increased dramatically since 2010, new research shows.

And despite research proving there's a causal relationship between depictions of smoking and initiation for teens, PG-13 movies saw the highest increases. 

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Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a spike in tobacco products on screen, which includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookah, electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, in American movies that ranked among the top 10 in theatrical receipts for at least one week. Between 2010 and 2018, among all top-grossing movies, tobacco incidents increased 57%.

For PG-13 movies alone, there's been a 120% increase in tobacco incidents. In 2018, biographical dramas accounted for most tobacco in film, a large majority of which was rated PG-13. 

According to the Surgeon General, youth heavily exposed to smoking in movies and television are more likely to begin smoking than those with minimal exposure. 

The CDC is recommending that films with smoking automatically receive an R rating to eliminate teen exposure to the film. 

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