Teen Smoking: Are Movie Characters to Blame?

The Midlife Gals (r) Health Guide
  • “The Washington briefing, hosted by the American Legacy Foundation, addressed the presence of tobacco use in films and its proven influence on teen smoking.


    According to the foundation, research shows that images of actors and characters smoking in youth-rated movies influence at least 200,000 American youth to start smoking each year.”


    Here is something I find interesting.  How can ‘research’ show that 200,000 teens start smoking every year because of characters smoking in the movies they like?


    Is this really true?  What research?  Did some poll people actually ask 200,000 teens if they started smoking for this reason?  And where were these teens?  Did they send out questionnaires to all of the high schools in the US and then do a tally?  Because I bet the answers from the teens hanging out after school at "Brooklyn Bernie’s Pool Hall" are way different from the ones of students who come to our door every Sunday morning trying to sell me The Book of Mormon.  I thought, "well, maybe the ones at the pool hall would lie and say they didn’t smoke"…but then I thought, "nah, they don’t care if we know they smoke or not and would probably tell the truth."  It’s the Mormon kids who would lie.  Now, I don’t want to start getting hate-mail from all of you Mormons out there.  I’m just sayin’ this is the way my mind works and I don’t know if Mormons think they are going to hell if they smoke, or not.

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    "…The policy would also end the identification of tobacco brands in any movies scenes, and eliminate smoking from G, PG and PG-13 films by rating movies R if they contain smoking.”


    I wonder what would happen if in movies from now on only nerds and trash collectors were shown smoking.  Then would teens want to do it too?  I don’t think it would make any difference as long as there are stores that sell cigarettes, booze and any other substance you can get hooked on.  They will find a way to get it.  The more risqué, verboten, illegal and inaccessible it is…the more they will find ways to get it.


    This is very interesting to me and made me wonder if people smoking in movies really influenced me to light my first cigarette.  In my case - no.  I liked Elvis movies and he never smoked in his movies that I can remember.  I started smoking because the group of people I hung out with in high school smoked and I wanted to be one of the gang, our parents and all of their friends smoked all the time, and I have an addictive personality that searches for something to latch on to.  There was nothing better than getting a case of Bud on a Friday afternoon and sneaking it in to the Yucca Drive-In Theater along with three good friends in the trunk of the car.  We would proceed to get shit-faced while yelling at each other across the lot and basically smoking our little lungs black.  Fun stuff.


    Is this the tail wagging the dog, I wonder?  Could it be that smoking is in movies because it is done in real life?  This is instead of smoking in real life because it is done in the movies?  Every time I go to an ‘R’ rated movie I see lots of teens in the seats.  Teens know if they want to see an ‘R’ movie they can buy a ticket to see ‘High School Musical’ and then once inside the multiplex, veer into the #5 theater and catch "Hell Boy," "Saw V," or "Motor Cycle Mamas From The Smoking Section."  And don’t think they won’t do it. 


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    Related posts:

    The Influence of Celebrities Who Smoke

    Influence of Celebrities and Smoking, Part II

    The Influence of Celebrities and Smoking, Part III

    What Smoking CAN'T Cause

Published On: August 28, 2008