Tobacco is a global issue that affects people from the youngest of ages. Increasing numbers of new smokers are teenagers, from which age addiction can become a serious problem. How is the “trendy” aspect of smoking communicated to younger generations?
According to a 2016 WHO study, movies may have a large part to play in this cultural encouragement to start smoking early. The study concluded that, in the USA, 37 % of young smokers were inspired by cinema icons. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that tobacco products were present in 72 % of box-office movies since 2010.
These numbers are alarming, especially considering they also apply to movies that target younger viewers. Cigarettes or tobacco products appear in 36% of films destined for a young target market.
Must French cinema ban cigarettes on screen?
The USA is not the only country to vehicle the coolness of tobacco products to the young. A 2012 study organised by the Ipsos institute and the Ligue Contre le Cancer demonstrated that France is no shining model in the matter.
The dataset compared 180 popular films to find that 80 % of them had scenes that involved smoking in some form. This study proves that the practise of smoking, even going against the law in public places or at work, is portrayed as commonplace.
Whether it is a cigarette being smoked stylishly or just a lighter on a table, the images are clear in their representation. Currently, according to senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais, over 70 % of new French films portray smoking in a positive or neutral light.
The senator, with the backing of the Ministry of Health, wants to change this.
Measures may come to pass very soon to avoid any for of advertising for smoking. Among these measures, films that portray smokers may be slapped with an 18+ rating.