Young Volunteers Unite In order to Prohibit Smoking Scenes in Movies for Children

Filmgoers who saw the PG-rated animated film “Rango” also find more than 50 scenes of tobacco use.

This animated film is targeted to younger audience, so it is evident that when teenagers see smoking scenes in movies they become attracted and thus are more likely to smoke, said David Martinez, a 19-year-old student.

Smoking scene from Fight Club

Young volunteers from San Joaquin County have united their efforts demanding production companies to prohibit smoking scenes in movies with less than an R rating. As part of the Tobacco Entertainment project, teenagers have been counting scenes of tobacco use in popular movies and are currently working on anti-tobacco public-service announcements, which they hope will appear at movie theaters and the radio.

At my school there are a lot of students who light up. They are already addicted. I believe that TV, movies and radio have something to do with it, said Rudy Buenrostro of Franklin High School.

Tobacco enterprises are prohibited from promoting and advertising their smokes to children. Showing tobacco-related scenes in those movies that children watch produce the same effect, according to Christiane Highfill, who controls the county’s Students in Prevention program.

Program activists are conducting the Tobacco in Entertainment effort. Every month students go to see newly released movies and rate them according to the number of scenes and in what context.

What kind of images are being demonstrated in all these movies? They are all giving a wrong image of Glamour and coolness, Highfill stated.

According to the results of a state survey approximately 4 % of San Joaquin County fifth-graders declared that they have tried smoking. Nearly all fifth-graders - 93 % of them - suppose smoking is “dangerous” for a person’s health.

Among 11th-graders, approximately 40% stated that they had smoked at least one cigarette, with 4 % declaring they smoke every day.

There is evidently a serious need to educate people about youth smoking and its consequences. We should start acting at the local level, as soon as possible, declared Ina Collins, of the county’s tobacco-control program.

In a report released in June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underlined that on-screen smoking scenes in teen-rated films had dropped significantly for the fifth straight year.

For instance, in 2010, smoking was found in approximately 600 youth-rated films, according to statistics. That was a drop of more than 70% from 2055, when the agency detected more than 2,000 cases of on-screen tobacco use.

We want to see more significant results, stated Mike Prasad, a teen volunteer from McNair High School.