"Redefining Cool'' Invites Careful Examination of Cigarette Use in Movies and Their Role as a Deadly Health Threat to Young Audiences
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to protect youth from the negative impact of smoking in movies, Legacy, best known for its truth® youth smoking prevention campaign, is asking aspiring filmmakers to think twice before using cigarettes as props in film. With the help of actress and activist Daryl Hannah, Legacy developed a six-minute documentary titled Redefining Cool. The short film explores how movies have been used to normalize smoking and how smoking imagery in movies can influence young people to light up.
"I'm thrilled that I can lend my voice to help educate students about the power they wield as filmmakers and how actions they take can have a substantial impact on society," said Hannah.
In 2009, more than half (54 percent) of top-grossing movies rated PG-13 included smoking, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have concluded that movies can influence youth to light up.
"Eighty percent of smokers started in their teens and movie smoking is a primary independent risk factor for youth starting to smoke," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. "While this might not be new information to the heads of major studios in Hollywood, we are taking this message straight to the frontlines, to the next generation of gifted young filmmakers to educate them so they can help change social norms and save lives."
Intended for film students, Redefining Cool outlines the history of Hollywood's longstanding relationship with the tobacco industry, including the use of paid product placements and cross-promotions. For example:
- In the 1930s and 1940s, tobacco companies featured a quid pro quo between Hollywood and actors in radio and print campaigns in which the tobacco companies received an advertising boost when the studios' stars smoked on screen and endorsed their brand off screen.
- Between 1927 and 1951, nearly 200 Hollywood stars joined cigarette ad campaigns.
- In 1979, a production company made a deal with Philip Morris in Superman II. The deal included a fight scene in which Superman is thrown into a Marlboro truck .
The relationship between Hollywood and the tobacco industry has changed, in large part, due to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which restricts the tobacco industry from paid product placement. However, as the documentary discusses, even though the era of Hollywood and the tobacco industry's well-known liaison has ended, tobacco imagery continues to influence youth to smoke.
By providing the facts about tobacco and its influence in movies, public health advocates hope to educate the next generation of filmmakers and empower them to use their creativity without the consequences of promoting tobacco to youth.
Legacy is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the national public health organization helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. Legacy develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth®, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as having contributed to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit http://www.legacyforhealth.org/.