More Smoke on the Big Screen: Health Organizations Demand Adult Rating for Movies that Show Smoking

TORONTO, May 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Alarmed by a sharp increase in scenes of smoking in youth-rated movies, health and medical groups in Ontario and New York State have joined forces to call for adult (18A/R) ratings on all future films that show people smoking.

The organizations have written to the film rating bodies on both sides of the border - the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB) and the six U.S. media companies that control American film ratings - calling on them "to protect the health and lives of young people by eliminating depictions of smoking in movies rated and marketed for children and teens".

The U.S. Surgeon General concluded last year that movies with smoking cause children and teens to smoke. This follows a decade of studies involving thousands of teens proving that movies are an important recruiter of new young smokers.

"Research in a dozen different countries shows that the more smoking kids see in Hollywood movies, the more likely they are to start smoking," said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association. "Ontario's more lenient film ratings mean Ontario youth are at even graver risk."

In their letter to OFRB and MPAA, the Ontario and U.S. health organizations point out that smoking in movies "is not a matter of taste; it is a preventable public health catastrophe. It is time that North America's kids stopped paying the cost in addiction, disease, disability and premature death."

The letter is signed by the leaders of Ontario Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Non-Smokers' Rights Association, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco and the Pediatricians' Alliance of Ontario as well as a number of New York-based health organizations.

They are protesting the fact that movies rated R in the United States are being released with a 14A or even a PG rating in Ontario. Both youth-rated and adult-rated movies depict harmful smoking imagery, they say, but Ontario's more lenient rating system allows Hollywood to release most of its R-rated movies into the lucrative youth market with a 14A rating, exposing Ontario teens to even bigger doses of smoking.

Their concern is based on a recent study by a coalition of Ontario health organizations, which found that while youth-rated movies delivered 60 per cent of tobacco exposure in the U.S., that figure jumped to 80 per cent in Ontario — simply because more heavy-smoking R-rated movies were released in Ontario with 14A and even PG ratings.

Moreover, the incidence of smoking in movies aimed at young audiences is going up. A new report released by the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies found that 83 per cent of last year's top-grossing films with tobacco imagery were rated for children and teens (G, PG and 14A). They delivered more than 815 million tobacco impressions (smoking scenes) to Ontario theatre audiences, a massive 59 per cent increase over 2011.

Lorraine Fry, executive director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, said that Canada was ahead of the U.S. in banning most forms of tobacco advertising but by allowing its movie screens to show smoking and tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies, it is promoting tobacco use to young people.

"A small print 'smoking' listing from OFRB or MPAA makes no difference," said Fry, "but a consistent 18A rating for smoking scenes will get the attention of the movie studios. They obviously need a stronger incentive to desist from promoting tobacco to children and teens."

The president of the Pediatricians' Alliance of Ontario, Dr. Hirotaka Yamashiro said that movies are "a vector in a growing worldwide tobacco epidemic."

"By adult-rating tobacco, Ontario can help children at risk in other countries that are being flooded with Hollywood movies promoting smoking," he said.

For more information about the campaign to eliminate smoking from movies targeted at children and teens, visit

About the Ontario Lung Association
The Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information, education and funding for research to improve lung health. For information on lung health, call 1‐888‐344‐LUNG (5864) or visit


SOURCE: The Lung Association

For further information:

John Chenery
416-864-9911 ext. 292 | Cell: 647-293-9911

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