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Behind the SmokeScreen Tobacco, films and children a presentation by Our worst serial killer ! Tobacco smoking in Australia causes.... 19,000 deaths a year 80% of all drug-related deaths More deaths than car accidents,

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Behind the smokescreen l.jpg


Tobacco, films and children

a presentation by

Our worst serial killer l.jpg
Our worst serial killer !

Tobacco smoking in Australia causes....

  • 19,000 deaths a year

  • 80% of all drug-related deaths

  • More deaths than car accidents,

    illicit drugs, alcohol, AIDS, murder, suicide, diabetes, breast & skin cancer... COMBINED!

  • Massive illness, disability & suffering

  • National cost of $21 billion a year

    Aust Inst of Health & Welfare 2002

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Smoking and children

In Australia (2002)…

  • 14% of secondary students (205,000) smoked at least weekly

  • 25% of 17-year-olds smoked at least weekly

  • 90% of all adult smokers start smoking as children

  • Kids can move quickly from experimentation to regular smoking and addiction

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The tobacco industry plan

  • Targeting children

    “23% of the population is 15 years of age and under. 17% is 16-24... Given predisposition to try/adopt new brands,this segment represents significant market opportunity... Overall objective: Position Marlboro as a ‘cult’ brand – to attract new smokers.”

    Marlboro marketing strategy in Australia, 1990

  • Using films

    “Most of the strong, positive images for cigarettes and smoking are created by cinema and television. We have seen the heroes smoking in ‘Wall St’, ‘Crocodile Dundee’ and ‘Roger Rabbit’. Mickey Rourke, Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn are forever seen, both on and off the screen, with a lighted cigarette... If branded cigarette advertising is to take full advantage of these images, it has to do more than simply achieve package recognition – it has to feed off and exploit the image source.”

    Philip Morris market research study, 1989

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Evidence of encouragement

Seeing smoking in films encourages children to smoke.

The evidence:

  • Adolescents exposed to film smoking are almost 3 times more likely to smoke

    Dalton et al, 2003, The Lancet

  • Non-smoking teens whose favourite stars

    smoke on screen 16 times more likely

    to view smoking favourably

    Tickle et al, 2001, Tobacco Control

  • Several other studies

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Film smoking: on the rise

Despite the “end” of official tobacco promotion around 1990…

  • More smoking in films in 2000

    than in the 60s – 9 out of 10

    Hollywood filmsKacirk & Glantz, Tobacco Control, 2001

  • Smoking in popular youth-oriented films

    up 50% since 1998 – 82% contain smoking,

    83% of these associate tobacco with

    positive attributesMassachusetts Public Interest Research Group, 2002

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Philip Morris for an Oscar?

Marlboro (Philip Morris’ top brand):

  • 28 appearances in big films in the last decade – more than any top star

  • More appearances (and more deaths) than Oscar-winner Hannibal Lecter!

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Oz-screened films

In the 13 top-grossing teen-popular films of 1999/2000:

  • 62% had at least one tobacco scene; average 4 scenes per film

  • A high % of visual smoking incidents connected tobacco with at least one plus (enjoyment, attractiveness, glamour, power etc.)

  • Few showed smoking as unappealing, unattractive or unacceptable

    Clarkson/Watson/Donovan/Giles-Corti, Uni of WA (2002, unpublished)

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Who profits from the youth SmokeScreen?

  • Each year, $167m revenue from tobacco sales to underage Australians

  • Tobacco industry clears $1.14m profit

  • Government gets more than $100m revenue

    Cancer Council Vic survey 2002

  • Film industry gets box office, contras etc

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What could we do about it?

  • Mandatory counter-advertising campaign

    • require anti-tobacco counter-ads to be played before every screening of youth-rated films depicting smoking

  • Statement by film-makers

    • in credits, saying no-one has accepted tobacco inducements

  • Support tougher legislation

    • prohibition on tobacco ads (TAP Act) should include clearer

      ban on inducements to promote smoking or tobacco products

    • excessive smoking could attract tougher classification

  • Reduce smoking content at source

    • writers, producers, directors – refuse tobacco inducements;

    • think creatively about alternatives to smoking scenes, brand ID

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Counter-ads can help

US study of 800 9th-graders showed:

  • Running an anti-smoking ad before a film showing smoking has “immunising” effect against glamourisation

  • Schoolkids seeing the anti-ads maintain their negative reactions to underage smoking

    Pechman/Shih, Uni of California 1997

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Who cares?

Organisations acting to reduce youth harm from smoking include:

ANYPAT (Australian Network on Young People and Tobacco)

Contact: Candy Fleming ph. (08) 8291-4143 [email protected]

ASH (Action on Smoking

and Health) Australia

Contact: Stafford Sanders

ph. (02) 9334-1823 [email protected]

The Cancer Council NSW

Smoking in Movies webpage at

AMA, Heart Foundation, Quit, Health Departments

…. How about YOU ?