Art Linkletter knew: kids say the darndest things. They also do the darndest things, and, all-too-often, imitate the darndest things. And that’s not always a good thing, especially when it comes to smoking.
Common Sense Media found that, 57% of parents are worried about their children overusing media, and 68% of them acknowledge that “media generally impacted their kids’ health.” Yet only 44% are concerned about their kids’ smoking, and 87% don’t think media ups the chances of their children lighting up.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Reportedly, 50% of all kids who start smoking do so because they’re imitating what they see in the movies-and one-third of them will likely die from a smoking-related disease.
And it’s no accident that stars are puffing away on the big (and little) screen. Way back in 1983, Smoke Free Movies reports that then-president of Phillip Morris International, Hamish Maxwell said, “I do feel heartened at the increasing number of occasions when I go to a movie and see a pack of cigarettes in the hands of a leading lady. This is in sharp contrast to the state of affairs just a few years ago when cigarettes rarely showed up on camera. We must continue to exploit new opportunities to get cigarettes on screen and into the hands of smokers.”
And they have-with stunning success and devastating effect. “In fact,” says Common Sense Media’s CEO, James Steyer, “Smoking in the movies is one of the most effective ways to get kids to pick up the habit.” Moreover, according to a Dartmouth Medical School report, smoking shows up in 74% of all movies, leading many teens to follow suit.