I have partnered with YMC and Region of Peel and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
Smoking in movies has been irksome to me for years. It’s so very unnecessary and irresponsible. I am a drama Mom. Both of my girls act and have for years with a local youth theatre troupe. It’s an amazing emotional outlet and youth development program. So I know all about character and plot devices and that smoking has traditionally been used as a character tool, but here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be.
I’ve seen many of the plays my kids act in altered ever so slightly to be more socially responsible, such as through losing old references to outdated and inappropriate language. Smoking in movies is like that to me. It’s outdated and socially inappropriate and even more, irresponsible.
The older I get, the more I realize how juvenile using smoking in movies as a tool to convey coolness or rebellion or any of the other emotions attached to it really is. This holds especially true for me since I became a mom and even more relevant as a mom of teenage girls.
I have two daughters aged 14 and 17. Right now, they’re fully coming into the age of independence and peer pressure. That’s a dangerous combination. Over the years, I’ve had several conversations with my daughters about smoking. We’ve talked about how dangerous it is. How unhealthy and disgusting it is. We’ve talked about what it can do to you and we have discussed all the people we know who have passed away from cancer. Then we also discussed what it does to your health and to your appearance and how addictive it can be as well as how hard it is to quit if you ever start.
Smoking in Movies Perpetuates the Act
My motto is honesty with my kids. When my younger daughter asked a few years ago: “Mom did you ever smoke?” I answered honestly with: “Yes, I did for seven years.” But I also often follow that with a discussion about research and science and I remind them knowing all that we know now compels us to do better and make healthier choices.
Since having that conversation about smoking, I’ve used myself as a prime example of how ridiculous it is. I started smoking in my early teens. During my teens, movies and media portrayed smoking as being glamorous and a way to stay thin. As a teen girl I bought that hook, line and sinker. When I began working after school at a fast food restaurant, where many other employees smoked, it reinforced that it was okay for me to do so socially.
I didn’t stop until I was around 23 or 24. So I smoked for about seven years before deciding to quit. Starting a new career and getting married convinced me it was time. So did a doctor I had at the time. The thing is even though I thought it was cool and relaxing in high school, quitting was anything but cool or easy.
Smoking in Movies Needs to Go
As a concerned mom, who knows all too well about how difficult it is to break away from smoking once you start, I’m proud to be partnering with YMC and Region of Peel- Public Health to bring awareness to their Smoke Free Movies campaign. The campaign asks parents to support the change by signing an e-petition that would require any new movies in Ontario, which contain tobacco imagery to be rated 18A, allowing parents to decide if their children are exposed to the act of smoking.
I love this because evidence strongly suggests this is an effective method of protecting children and youth from exposure to onscreen smoking and is also an incentive for movie producers to remove smoking from their films altogether. That’s important because 86% of movies with smoking in them were rated for kids and teens in Ontario. On top of that, the more kids and teens are exposed to smoking in the movies, the more likely they are to start.
Take a look at these statistics:
- An estimated 185,000 children in Ontario will start smoking due to their exposure to its onscreen use. Of those, 59,000 will die from tobacco related diseases.
- 37% of Ontario youth smokers are recruited to become smokers due to onscreen smoking.
Those are two horrifying statistics for me as a Mom of two beautiful, healthy daughters. There’s no reason for smoking to appear in the movies anymore and if it does it needs to be restricted to those who are 18 plus.
Schools work towards making sure kids know that smoking is not a healthy choice. Most parents do too of course. Now it’s time media started getting the message and accepting that they have a greater role in our culture too.
Help Make Smoking in Movies a Thing of the Past
Smoking is so easy to start, and it’s incredibly difficult to quit. Smoking is one of the most common activities that kids and teens are pressured into taking part in, and it comes at them from many sides. The last thing we need is a movie theater being the prime pusher of these incredibly addictive and deadly products.
So What Can You Do?
Movies influence kids. We need to make them smoke free. Please, join me in the fight to end smoking in movies. Help support a rating change for all new movies in Ontario and protect our kids from ever starting.
Visit the Smoke Free Movies petition page and sign the petition to help us end smoking in movies.