Smoking in movies has increased

The depiction of smoking and smokers has increased in movies despite studios pledging to clamp down on those portrayals, according to a study by the American Legacy Foundation.

From CBS News:

“There were nearly 1,900 portrayals of smoking and other tobacco usage among the 134 highest-grossing films at the box office in 2011, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco…”

“The consequence of more on-screen smoking portrayals will be “more kids starting to smoke and developing tobacco-induced disease,” UCSF professor of medicine Stanton A. Glantz told the LA Times.”

“Among the PG-13-rated picture with more than 50 on-screen tobacco portrayals were DreamWorks Studios’ “The Help,” Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and 20th Century Fox’s “Water for Elephants,” all period pieces. The only PG-rated release in that category was the animated western “Rango,” from Paramount Pictures.”

Have you noticed an increase in smoking in films? Should period films not portray smoking even though people smoked liked chimneys at that time? Do you think it increases smoking?

34 comments Add your comment


October 3rd, 2012
6:23 am

“Coffin nails” in movies. Oh My! My Mother, Daddy, and most all of my Aunts and Uncles took up smoking before they ever saw a silent movie much less a talkie. Most of them, except for the three who didn’t smoke and died in their early seventies, lived to their late eighties and mid nineties. I guess smoking finally got them.


October 3rd, 2012
7:19 am

We don’t need to whitewash or alter history to serve an agenda. It’s a parent’s responsibility to educate their child/ren about the hazards of smoking.


October 3rd, 2012
7:26 am

So why do you continue to give them your money?


October 3rd, 2012
7:40 am

Yuck for smoking. FIL smokes non stop and he is 77. I have rarely seen him without a cigarette in his hand, None of his children nor grandchildren smoke. I have never understood the rhyme and reason of those who take care of their bodies and die young versus those who abuse their bodies and continue to live. A mystery for sure.


October 3rd, 2012
7:49 am

I cannot comment on smoking in movies, as I rarely go. I did see The Help and it reminded me that many people smoked, in that era, and not much was thought about it at the time.

Some people spanked their kids back then too. Should we take that out of the movies? It has been missing in our society and look at the progress. I rarely spanked mine ( used other methods of punishment) but some parents have no clue on how to handle their kids. Did anyone else read this…hard to believe and I wonder what is up with it:

Last week, a lady told me that she would take her 6 grandkids (for the weekend) over some of her single students for one day. She told me her grandkid’s Dad was a Marine and they had clear expectations for behavior. Interesting stuff for sure!

Sk8ing Momma

October 3rd, 2012
8:04 am

1. No, I have not noticed an increase in on-screen smoking. It’s not something on my radar screen.
2. Yes, period films should portray smoking if it is accurate. Failure to do so will impact the realism of the film.
3. IMO, on-screen does not increase smoking. People who want to smoke will do so regardless.


October 3rd, 2012
8:05 am

It is up to the parent to discuss these issues with their children after seeing movies/tv shows. Why blame tv & movies for your inability to parent?

Do you also blame them when your kid gets caught shoplifting/beating/teasing/bullying???


October 3rd, 2012
8:36 am

There has been an increase in zombie films also and this will have a direct correlation with kids turning into zombies. Zombie films must be stopped!!

Junior Samples

October 3rd, 2012
8:41 am


Oh no, it’s already working.


October 3rd, 2012
9:24 am

It’s one thing if it’s kids smoking, but it’s another if it’s adults.

I don’t think TV shows or movies should show kids smoking, unless it’s to teach a lesson that doing so is bad. If an adult is shown smoking, that’s something entirely different. To me it would send the message that something like smoking (or drinking) is something only adults do, not kids. At least, it should.

Really, it’s up to parents to tell their kids the dangers of smoking or drinking. My parents let me know from an early age that smoking and drinking was hazardous to my health: If they caught me smoking or drinking, they would kill me.


October 3rd, 2012
9:38 am

I started smoking way too young…and it wasn’t because of smokers in movies or on TV. I started smoking because my parents and most of their friends smoked and I grew up surrounded by it. It’s kind of hard to start smoking if you don’t have access to cigarettes…but if they’re sitting right there on the kitchen counter…

I quit over 2 years ago (I also quit during all 4 of my pregnancies, and yes I realize it was unbelievably stupid to have ever started back up). Unfortunately, it wasn’t before my oldest daughter decided to take up smoking…again, not because of what she saw in entertainment, more likely due to what she saw at HOME.

“Among the PG-13-rated picture with more than 50 on-screen...all period pieces."

October 3rd, 2012
9:42 am

…see #2 under what Sk8ting Momma said…


October 3rd, 2012
9:54 am

Enter your comments here


October 3rd, 2012
9:55 am

Art and entertainment reflect society,
Education shapes it.

non committal mind reader

October 3rd, 2012
10:25 am

We don’t need to whitewash or alter history to serve an agenda. It’s a parent’s responsibility to educate their child/ren about the hazards of smoking

Bingo. This is a non-issue. I don’t smoke and never smoked. My kids don’t smoke.. and never smoked. We all watch movies. If These were “G” rated moves and filled with smoking, I’d have an issue. Anything beyond that , and you better be ready for a little sex, violence, and smoking. Worldwide, there are over a billion smokers (almost one in three adults). As long as they don’t smoke in the restaurants, hotels, theme parks, hospitals, office spaces, etc, that I share with them, I don’t care. As long as they pay for their own healthcare… I don’t care. All I seek in movies is an accurate portrayal of smokers.


October 3rd, 2012
10:51 am

I don’t smoke, but when I did, it was socially. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in over 20 years…

I was at a wedding this weekend. EVERYONE there smoked, except myself and two other’s over the age of 50. It was very disgusting to see all these 20 something year old kids puffing on cigarettes. It just breaks my heart. I wonder how many of those kids will stop within the next year, or will it be a lifelong habit?



October 3rd, 2012
11:17 am

I congratulated my brother on his last cigarette a few weeks ago…after his lung collapsed. Not that his smoking was the definite cause of his issue but it sure felt good to have something to use against his smoking.

I agree that a person will choose to smoke based on personal influences moreso than books and movies. If you are concerned with what a movie may “teach” your child then 1. you need to figure out how a 2 hour movie has more impact on your child’s decision-making than your constant influence and correct that dynamic immediately and 2. stop letting your kids go to the movies. I’m thinking that #1 is the more serious of the 2.


October 3rd, 2012
11:27 am

Smoking on screen will not increase smoking in teens any more than killing on screen. That’s just silly IMO


October 3rd, 2012
12:29 pm

Counting “instances of smoking”…..what a job.


October 3rd, 2012
12:53 pm

Are your children so easily brainwashed that they would smoke because a movie star does? If so, that’s really bad!


October 3rd, 2012
1:22 pm

I’m more concerned about the sexual connotations in the 8:00 shows. Two Broke Girls was one sexual inuendo after another. Within 3 minutes, they had hit on 5 sexual inuendos……Same with Partners……


October 3rd, 2012
1:48 pm

Mayhem, are you suggesting that children be shielded from sex? That is proving to work so very well in other States with abstinence only teaching programs. Change the channel if you don’t approve. Or better yet, turn the TV off completely.


October 3rd, 2012
1:54 pm

i know twiglight was popular and the increase of vampires and warepeople was on the rise.

i think your values/teachings are going to mean more than a movie character. also a good time to talk to your kids about their thoughts of seeing the actors smoking. they might surprise you.


October 3rd, 2012
2:16 pm

Interesting, but I don’t think smoking in the movies has ANY effect on whether someone chooses to smoke or not.

My mom smoked, so I was around it all the time. She was also inactive and had a host of health problems related to both the smoking and the sedentary life she led. I was never interested in smoking, despite being around it all the time as I grew up. In fact, after being away for some time in college, coming back home after a long time away was hard because then I could really tell how much she was really smoking.

Just not my thing. I was never interested at all. And, in fact, in case I was ever tempted, she made sure to let me know very clearly that I’d be in VERY big trouble if I started smoking, too. I never found it remotely appealing at all.


October 3rd, 2012
3:35 pm

I wish YOU had YOUR own world so YOU could run it just like YOU want!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 3rd, 2012
5:09 pm

When Michael first started at AP smoking was allowed in the newsroom. I can’t imagine sitting there breathing in everyone else’s smoke. That would so awful. I am so glad by the time i graduated they weren’t allowing smoking in newsrooms any more. My allergies would have been going crazy much less the second-hand smoke.


October 3rd, 2012
7:02 pm

Can you imagine The Outsiders without cigarettes? . (Rose will probably read the book this year or next. Mine read it 6th grade year–last year– but her good friend in AZ is reading it 7th grade–now)

I saw The Breakfast Club in 7th or 8th grade and it didn’t get me to try drugs.

I would guess you saw both of those in your tweens/teens. Did it make you want to smoke? Back then my HS had a student smoking area. None of that got me to want to smoke. (Oh good now I have “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” running through my head).


October 3rd, 2012
7:04 pm


October 3rd, 2012
7:27 pm

Virtually never go to the movies. I thought you meant smoking inside the theater–I was sure we were past that! Don’t watch enough TV either to comment.

Mom and MIL died of lung cancer. Both were heavy smokers for years. MIL lived 3 months after quitting. My mom quit 10 years before being diagnosed; lived 3 or so years longer. Both said, when diagnosed, “I have lung cancer but not from smoking.” However, small cell carcinoma is almost always from smoking. Son smokes. I pray daily for him to quit. I’d appreciate anyone else praying for him, as well.


October 3rd, 2012
7:31 pm

Theresa, what was worse was FLYING with the airplane full of smoke from smokers. (Or from the engines being on fire–that would be even worse!)

Don't Tread

October 3rd, 2012
7:51 pm

Did they bother to count drug references in movies? Permissive attitudes towards illegal drugs are destroying this country.


October 3rd, 2012
8:25 pm

We too had a smoking section in our HS in Arkansas. I also remember sitting near the smoking section of an airplane. They designated certain rows for smokers…like the smoke stayed in those rows…really? Yes, I almost always smelled like smoke from the break room at Wal Mart in HS and college. That was almost 30 years ago!


October 4th, 2012
12:03 am

@FCM- Adam Ant was at Music Midtown this year! I love him!


October 4th, 2012
1:01 pm

While the notion of smoking in movies increasing the rate of smoking in young impressionable kids seems remote at best (and this is supported by most comments here), researchers at the The Dartmouth Geisel School Of Medicine seem to disagree. They have found a significant relationship between movie smoking exposure in films rated PG-13 and adolescent smoking.

Their study looked for the reason why smoking in movies led to an increase in teen smoking and they concluded that it was the visual appeal of seeing kids favorite stars smoking that led to the increase.

As someone with young children, I can tell you that celebrities influence behavior. I do not think it is a stretch to say that some children are swayed by what they see their favorite movie stars doing.

More information about the Dartmouth Findings visit here