News / 

Smelling Smoke in Movies: Group Faults Films That Show Smoking

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Hollywood came under fire Friday by an anti-smoking group for featuring smoking scenes in such PG-13 rated movies as Anger Management,''Down With Love'' and ``X2: X-Men United.''

Research conducted by STARS, a program of Sacramento-based American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, found a prevalence of tobacco use in films being marketed to youths.

It's one of those things that I don't think a lot of people notice,'' said Kori Titus, executive director of STARS, which draws attention to the use of tobacco in movies.It's just a Hollywood image that people have come to accept. But a lot of these movies are directed toward young people at an age when they start to get addicted.''

Not all recent films failed the smoking test.

Bruce Almighty,''Daddy Day Care'' and The Matrix Reloaded,'' were all praised by the organization for either leaving tobacco out or showing it as an unpopular or unhealthy habit. The prequel toReloaded,'' 1999's ``The Matrix,'' did contain smoking.

But such examples proved to be the exception in STARS' review of 145 recent top 10 movies that played between May 31, 2002, and last weekend.

Of the movies reviewed, 106 featured tobacco use. While 76 percent of the 46 R-rated movies depicted tobacco use, 82 percent of the PG-13-rated movies did. Also, of the 18 PG-rated movies, 39 percent (seven movies) contained tobacco.

The amount of tobacco use and the pro-tobacco messages are even worse than we anticipated,'' Titus said.The trend we're seeing is that moviemakers are willing to cut back on violence and sexual content to acquire the PG-13 rating, but are either unable or unwilling to consider cutting back on what amounts to tobacco advertising to young people.''

Calls to the tobacco industry were not immediately returned Friday.

The review group, which was comprised of adults and teenagers, also rated the movies according to the perceived tobacco messages in them, the amount of tobacco used, who's using it and where.

Reviewers said just 30 percent of the movies researched either had no tobacco scenes or portrayed the effects of tobacco use. Meanwhile, 39 percent had either pro-tobacco or glamorous portrayals of smoking.

In addition, the research showed a growing percentage of films allowing identification of specific tobacco brands, which critics said represents the lingering effects of extensive product placement campaigns of the 1970s and '80s.

``While tobacco companies swore off product placement during the late 1980s, persistent brand identification in movies may suggest a continuing tobacco industry presence,'' said Curtis Mekemson, a researcher and consultant with the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails.


(The Los Angeles Daily News web site is at

c.2003 Los Angeles Daily News

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast