Does Smoking in PG Movies Lead Kids to Unhealthy Habits?


Smoking scenes in movies remain extremely popular. But, does smoking in PG movies lead kids to unhealthy habits? Read this article to find out more.

The depiction of smoking in films is rising. This is despite the fact that statistically, most people are turning away from smoking due to their health risks.

However, while most “tobacco incidents” occur in movies with a PG-13 rating and higher, there are still scenes of people smoking in films with a PG rating.

But does smoking in PG movies cause children to take up the habit?

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the statistics behind it, and what we can do to help ensure kids don’t start taking up smoking.

How Many Children Smoke? Are Films Really to Blame?

While it is unclear how many minors smoke, the CDC states that 5.6 million minors are predicted to die of tobacco-related causes. This includes diseases they may acquire as a result of smoking.

But is there a correlation between seeing it in films and picking up the habit?

According to the Surgeon General, seeing people smoke in films is directly related to children and teens deciding to take it up.

The CDC also reports that many youth-rated films not only feature smoking but that the rate is actually increasing.

Which Film Companies Have Produced PG Movies Featuring Smoking?

Surprisingly, most major film companies have produced films that contain smoking. Even companies aimed towards children’s entertainment.

Film companies that included smoking in PG-rated films include Disney, Viacom, Sony and Fox. However, it has been noted that incidents from these companies have been dropping dramatically in the past several years.

But incidents from Time Warner, Comcast, and Independent film companies have, unfortunately, risen over time.

How Many PG Movies Feature Smoking in them?

There isn’t much data to demonstrate exactly how many PG movies feature smoking in them. Researchers, instead, focus on PG-13 movies, as they are accessible to all children over the age of 13.

Movies that contained no smoking at all have increased in the past 15 years. 62% of films that are rated PG-13 and lower contain no smoking, compared to just 35% in 2002.

However, according to the CDC, the number of “tobacco incidents,” which includes tobacco in some form (such as chewing or an advertisement in the film) has reached incredibly high levels. The peaked in 2016, with the numbers slightly lower in 2017.

How Does Smoking in Films Make an Impression on Children?

According to the Surgeon General’s 2014 report, 37% of young people began smoking after seeing a character to it in a film. They may have decided it was “cool” and wanted to see what it was like.

Seeing a character on film they admire, or an actor they admire playing a character who smokes, can contribute massively to children deciding to give it a try.

The CDC states that lessening the number of tobacco incidents in films could save over 1 million children from dying in the future of tobacco-related illnesses.

How Many Children Are Exposed to Films with Smoking?

According to the website Healthy Children, in 2015, films rated PG-13 and under had over 2.7 billion impressions of tobacco-related incidents. An impression is defined by one person seeing a tobacco product one time.

What Do Film Studios Do About It?

Some film studios have a warning on their film’s poster or marketing materials stating that there is smoking in the movie. However, this is not required. And in fact, 9 out of 10 films that included smoking in them did have such labels.

Providing a smoking label is the job of either the studio or the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which provides ratings. But, it appears neither is taking their job seriously.

What Is Proposed to Change?

The CDC believes that movie studios can drastically cut down on the number of minors who try smoking for the first time or take it up as a habit. They can do this by omitting smoking in films altogether.

They can also do this by ensuring that any movie that features smoking in it receives an R rating. This would discourage minors from watching films that contain smoking. It would also discourage movie studios from including smoking scenes, as many do not want their rating to be “too high” and alienate their audience.

The CDC also recommends that any state or city which gives films money in order to have them made on location could give the money on the condition that there are no tobacco incidents.

What About Vaping in Films?

As vaping is relatively new, there isn’t much data about its representation. Some people believe it is a cheaper and healthier alternative to smoking. This is the case, especially since you can get vape juice for a 120 ml bottle for only $11.50.

While it may be cheaper, some experts don’t believe that it is any healthier. Some believe it is also a gateway to smoking. Instead, movie studios will have to contend with how they will handle the issue of vaping in films moving forward. Currently, there is no public outcry, but there may be in the future.

How Do I Know If a PG Movie Has Smoking in It?

If you’re a parent who allows their child to watch PG movies, but is strongly against smoking, this doesn’t leave you must option but to screen the film first. While smoking in youth-rated films has fallen tremendously in recent years, it still exists. And a PG rating, or even G-rating, doesn’t guarantee that it will be smoke-free.

For the latest information on everything related to movies, visit the film section of our website.


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