Ontario Film Review Board needs to ban images of smoking and tobacco use in youth-rated movies

TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The Toronto International Film Festival is a time to celebrate the best in film, but what isn't worth celebrating are the many youth-rated films that feature tobacco products.

The depiction of smoking in youth-rated movies is a serious public health issue.  A significant body of research is in agreement that the more kids see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking. Research evidence estimates that almost half of youth smoking initiation can be attributed to images of on-screen smoking.

"The portrayal of tobacco in films is often subtle and influences people's perceptions whether they are consciously aware of it or not," said Lorraine Fry co-chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and executive director, Non-Smokers' Rights Association (NSRA). "This is why images of smoking and tobacco in movies is toxic for children and teens."

The Ontario Film Review Board is responsible for rating movies in the province. Ratings are based on a variety of criteria, such as images of violence, substance abuse and nudity among others, but images of smoking and tobacco use currently have no impact on a movie's rating. As a result, the animated feature Rango, released last year was rated PG even though it featured more than 50 instances of tobacco use. This problem is wide-spread. Of all the top-grossing films released last year, 85 per cent of movies rated (G, PG, 14A) for children and teens by the Ontario Film Review Board featured images of smoking.

"Tobacco companies have a long history of collaborating with Hollywood to promote cigarettes and other tobacco products in movies for at least six out of the past eight decades," said Andrea Kita, co-chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies. "We can protect today's children and teens from becoming a new generation of smokers by ensuring all future movies rated for this audience are tobacco-free."

"Most forms of tobacco promotion and advertising are banned in Canada," said Joanne Di Nardo, Senior Manager, Public Issues for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario. "We need to end this final frontier of advertising by the tobacco industry."

Each year, children and teens in Ontario continue to be exposed to millions of images of tobacco use through movies. For this reason the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is calling on the Ontario Film Review Board to ensure that all future movies rated for children and teens are tobacco-free.

To understand how depictions of smoking in movies affect youth and learn more about which new movies released in theatres and on DVD/Blu-ray contain images of smoking and other tobacco products, visit www.facebook.com/hookedbyhollywood. Parents and moviegoers can voice their concerns on this important issue at www.smokefreemovies.ca.

About the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies: The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is a group of leading health organizations taking collective action to counter the harmful impact of smoking in children and teen-rated movies (G, PG, 14A).  Members of the coalition include the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Non-Smokers' Rights Association / Smoking and Health Action Foundation, Ontario Lung Association, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and Ontario Tobacco Control Area Networks of Public Health Units. For more information, please visit www.smokefreemovies.ca

SOURCE: Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies

For further information:

For more information or to book an interview opportunity, please contact:

Joanne Di Nardo
Canadian Cancer Society
416 937-5746

Lorraine Fry
Ontario Coalition for Smoke Free Movies
416 928-2900

Andrea Kita
Ontario Coalition for Smoke Free Movies
905 546-2424 x2549

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Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies

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