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Oscars a reminder that Hollywood is hooking youth

SIMCOE, FEBRUARY 18, 2011 – As Hollywood gears up for the 83rd annual Academy Awards on Sunday, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is shining a spotlight on the impact that the film industry has on the smoking habits of local youth.

An alarming forty-four percent of teens aged 15 to 19 who started smoking did so because of seeing stars light up on the big screen. The Health Unit wants youth, and their parents to become aware of smoking in movies and take action.

“In Oscar season, movies are top of mind,” said Josh Daley, Health Promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “We want to ensure that people are thinking beyond cinematography and score and are considering the messages that our children are unknowingly taking away.”

Best Picture front-runners True Grit, The Social Network, Black Swan and The Fighter, all of which contain many scenes of tobacco use, received 14A ratings in Ontario, making them accessible to impressionable young movie-goers. In fact, of the youth-rated films that are nominated for an Oscar this year (i.e. films rated G, PG or 14A), more than 50 per cent feature tobacco imagery.

In 2009 alone, 1.1 billion tobacco impressions were delivered in youth-rated movies, a figure that does not include the on-screen tobacco exposures youth consumed online, on television or through DVD/Blu-ray movies.

The recent research showing a direct relationship between youth’s exposure to smoking in movies and their likelihood of starting to smoke is a concern for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, and should concern parents as well. The Health Unit is encouraging young people and their parents to learn more about the issue of smoking in movies and join in the quest to take tobacco out of youth-rated films.

“One of our goals is to require new films that contain smoking to receive an 18A rating,” noted Daley. “This is not an attempt to restrict which movies youths can watch, but rather to force studios to choose between keeping tobacco in their films or risk losing their biggest audience, which is youth.”

During the week of February 19th to 27th, which is Smoke-Free Movies International Week of Action, visitors to www.smokefreemovies.ca can sign a global petition to keep smoking out of youth-rated movies. Also, parents and young people alike can join in the smoke-free movies conversation by searching for Hooked By Hollywood on Facebook.

To learn more visit www.smokefreemovies.ca

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Media contact:
Josh Daley
Health Promoter, Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3256 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623

[email protected]