• June 24, 2024

Movie smokescreen

 Movie smokescreen

Only 7,829 cases to go.

For many people, removing smoking scenes from movies is like removing scenes where people take a bus. Smoking or taking a bus are two of the things that people do and therefore in showing these actions film makers are merely depicting life. The trouble is that the evidence indicates that showing teenagers such scenes makes them start to smoke and, presumably, take buses. But in an opinion piece on the washingtonexaminer.com website, Guy Bentley, who is a consumer freedom research associate at the Reason Foundation, disputes that there is any such evidence.

Some public health myths, he writes, no matter how absurd or consistently refuted, just refuse to die a dignified death.

One of the most pervasive is the claim that the more teens see tobacco in movies the more likely they are to pick up smoking. Every time a new study comes out documenting tobacco use on the big screen, a minor panic ensues.

Such a report, released last month, showed the use or implied use of tobacco in top-grossing movies rose 72 percent from 2010 to 2016. In PG-13 movies these “tobacco incidents” rose 43 percent, and there was a 90 percent increase for R-rated movies. (It should be noted the researchers decided to include e-cigarettes in their category of tobacco incidents, despite e-cigarettes containing zero tobacco).

The study garnered extensive media coverage, with almost all outlets taking it as gospel that this was an issue of public concern. Claims there is a wealth of strong evidence suggesting scenes featuring tobacco in movies actually cause teens to smoke went repeated without question.

Later in his piece, Bentley says that the fundamental problem with the research underpinning this evidence is that it is impossible to establish a causal relationship between seeing tobacco on screen and smoking while controlling for other factors.

Bentley’s piece is at: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/a-myth-that-wont-die-movies-cause-teen-smoking/article/2631562.