Ontario Coalition supports action on smoking in youth-rated movies

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“The more YOUTH see SMOKING in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking”

May 31, 2011 @ 10:30AM

Toronto, Ontario – The Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies presented compelling new public survey results on World No Tobacco Day and cited the growing body of evidence and support from leading health organizations which include: the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and the World Health Organization. According to the survey, nearly three out of four (73 percent) Ontarians said they would support a policy initiative to get smoking out of youth-rated movies.

“Research shows the more youth see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start,” said Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, medical officer of health, Peterborough County-City Health Unit, one of the many organizations endorsing policy recommendations to remove smoking from youth-rated movies. “The public agrees that smoking in movies is a serious public health issue, especially as it relates to youth. As tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario, this issue needs to be addressed.”

The survey was commissioned by the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies, a group of significant health organizations from across the province that has come together to counter the harmful impact of smoking in movies, particularly as it targets and influences Ontario’s youth. The March 2011 survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid and is based on online interviews with a stratified random sampling of 812 Ontarians, 18 years of age or older.

Ontarians were asked, “To what extent would you support the following policy initiative aimed to reduce the impact of smoking in movies?” – Not allowing smoking in movies that are rated G, PG or 14A. Their responses:

Strongly support


Somewhat support


Somewhat oppose


Strongly oppose


“It is clear that the majority of Ontarians support getting tobacco out of films rated for youth audiences,” said Andrea Kita, co-chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies and project manager, Central West Tobacco Control Area Network. “We need a change in Ontario to reflect what the public wants – no tobacco use or product placement in movies rated G, PG or 14A.”

Youth exposure to smoking by youth-rated movies is actually far more prevalent in Canada than in the United States because Canadian film review boards give movies a youth rating more often. For example, between June and December 2010, the Ontario Film Review Board granted youth ratings to 90 percent of top-grossing films, compared to just 69 percent of films receiving similar ratings from the Motion Picture Association of America.

These movies, rated G, PG or 14A in Ontario, delivered 293 million impressions to theatre audiences across the province, accounting for 87 percent of all in-theatre tobacco impressions. In theatres across the United States, youth-rated movies accounted for only 51 percent of tobacco impressions.

“There are more than 300,000 teen smokers in Canada today, and their unnecessary exposure to smoking on screen does influence their decision to smoke,” said George Habib, president and chief executive officer, Ontario Lung Association. “Preventing youth uptake of smoking is one of the most important things that we need to do for our young people and it is clear that removing on-screen smoking in youth-rated movies is a key way to do so.”

Throughout Ontario, youth groups are educating peers about how the tobacco industry has been targeting them through smoking in youth-rated movies.

“When Vince Vaughn or Keira Knightly smoke, it influences youth to do the same,” said Jordan Alexander, a 17-year-old youth ambassador for smoke-free movies. “These are our role models. The tobacco industry has had a history of paying actors to smoke and paying to place its products in movies. Whether we like it or not, this type of marketing is effective and we’re here to ensure youth aren’t recruited through the movies to be the next generation of smokers.”

For more information and access to tools to help Ontarians voice concerns about tobacco in youth-rated movies, visit http://www.smokefreemovies.ca.

Survey Results: These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, a member of the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies. A total of n=812 Ontarians 18+ were interviewed using Ipsos’ online omnibus March 25-30, 2011. Data were weighted by region, age, and gender to ensure the sample matched the actual adult population of Ontario. The margin of error for this study is +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.


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 youth-rated movies. 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 the Ontario Tobacco Control Networks of Public Health Units. For more information, please visit http://www.smokefreemovies.ca.


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