The correlation between onscreen smoking and teen tobacco use is not new. A 2012 report from the Office of the Surgeon General had identified a “causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young persons.”. According to this report, when young people are exposed to onscreen smoking, they are 2 to 3 times more likely to start smoking than young people that have not been similarly exposed.
Despite this harsh realization, the movie industry has not decided to rally this cause: according to an article published in Vox, onscreen smoking hasn’t stop increasing over the last 7 years (2010-2016). Over the 1400 movies produced during this period, the study reveals that individual occurences of tobacco use take place in 72% of those movies, which grants tobacco a first-rate visibility. One of the most interesting points of the study concerns the difference of onscreen tobacco occurrences according to the movie concerned: for movies that are R-rated (forbidden to under 17), the upward trend was the most important with a 90% increase. And 5 of the 6 major Hollywood studios chose to have tobacco occurences in their movies.
This is all the more problematic for teen-movies. We witness an important increase of onscreen tobacco in those movies while the general trend is to limit as much as possible the attractiveness of tobacco to the youth. This situation is not due to chance: actually many movie companies are including tobacco onscreen as part of their commercial strategy.