World Report: April 27, 2007 Vol. #12 Iss. #25

This Issue:
Table of Contents
Cover Story
Cover Story - Spanish Version
Comprehension Quiz
Teacher's Guide and Worksheets

Hollywood's Smoke Alarm

The american screen has long been a smoky place. But cigarettes are more common in movies today than at any other time in the last 50 years. According to a survey by the University of California, San Francisco, 75% of all Hollywood films released between 1999 and 2006 show tobacco use. That number includes 36% of movies that are rated G or PG.

Sadly, audiences--especially kids--are taking notice. Two recent studies show that among children as young as 10, those exposed to the most on-screen smoking are up to 2.7 times as likely as others to pick up the habit. Kids from nonsmoking homes are hit the hardest. This could be because they don't live with the dirty ashtrays and smelly drapes that make real-world smoking a lot less appealing than the cleaned-up movie version.

"Seeing smoking on-screen makes it look normal," says Jono Polansky, who works with a project called Smoke Free Movies. "It says, 'If you want to be an adult, you'll smoke,'" Polansky told TFK. Before you go to the movies, check out for an updated list of which flicks show smoking.

A No-Smoking Zone

More groups than ever are pushing to get the smokes off of the screen. "Some movies show kids up to 14 incidents of smoking per hour," says Barry Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. "We're in the business of preventing disease, and cigarettes are the Number 1 preventable cause."

Pressure is growing to make movies a no-smoking zone. A dozen health groups, including the American Medical Association, are calling for reduction of smoking in movies and on TV. Forty-one state attorneys general have signed a letter seeking an anti-tobacco public-service ad at the beginning of any DVD that includes smoking.

Like former smokers, movie studios may conclude that quitting the habit is not just a lot healthier, but also a lot smarter.