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Youth host free Avengers: Age of Ultron screening to spread word about smoke-free movies

SIMCOE, MAY 11, 2015 – Movies are big business, but a group of local youth is working to make sure kids don’t get more than they bargain for when taking in the latest blockbusters.

Members of HEAT, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s volunteer youth group, will be hosting a free movie screening of The Avengers: Age of Ultron at the Simcoe Strand Theatre on Saturday, May 16th. The event is intended to raise awareness about the impact of tobacco use in youth-rated movies.

The movie will begin at 10:30 a.m. Only a limited amount of seats will be available, with doors opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 10 a.m. Throughout the morning, a number of Avengers-themed games and activities will be used to educate attendees about the risks associated with on-screen smoking.

HEAT members, along with numerous other leading provincial, national and international health organizations, are advocating for a rating change that would make all new movies rated for kids and teens (i.e. films rated G, PG, and 14A) be smoke-free. Attendees of the event will have the opportunity to show their support for tobacco-free, youth-rated movies.

“Movies and television are one of the last places tobacco is still advertised, causing viewers to be subjected to a number of misleading and positive messages about smoking,” explained Noor Cheema, a youth volunteer with HEAT. “We believe it’s important to rate all movies containing tobacco use 18A, so youth can stop being negatively influenced by glamourized tobacco use in movies,”

The latest research reveals that over the past 10 years, 86 per cent of the top-grossing movies in Ontario that contained tobacco were rated for youth. These movies almost always fail to show the realities of tobacco use, such as addiction, disease, and death. Evidence also has shown a direct link between the amount of smoking young people see in movies and their likelihood of starting to use tobacco.

“Our goal is to not only educate our peers, and parents, on the dangers of on-screen smoking, but to have lots of fun doing it, “said Cheema.

Disney recently announced that all of its future youth-rated movies, including Marvel, Pixar and Lucas Film productions, would be tobacco-free.

“It’s encouraging to hear a big studio like Disney start to understand how serious this issue is,” added Cheema. “Plus, a blockbuster like The Avengers proves that movies can be incredibly successful without including tobacco.”

Parents who would like to find out which new releases contain smoking, or would like to show support for smoke-free youth-rated movies can visit www.hookedbyhollywood.ca. Twitter users are also encouraged to join the discussion using the hashtag #ratesmoking18.

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Media contact:
Nicole Stone
Health Promoter, School Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3236 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
nicole.stone@hnhu.org