I Support Smoke-Free Movies for Kids and Teens! | Toronto Teacher Mom

I Support Smoke-Free Movies for Kids and Teens!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I Support Smoke-Free Movies
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Region of Peel-Public Health and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

This past summer, the kids and I watched a number of movies together, both at home and at the theatre. We really enjoy catching the latest flick and, for the most part, I like that they share my love of the movies. However, there is always that voice inside my head that worries about the content in the movie, despite the "General Audience" or "Parental Guidance" rating. You see, 86% of movies with smoking were rated for kids and teens in Ontario. According to the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, "higher exposure to tobacco in movies increases the uptake of smoking among youth and undermines tobacco prevention efforts." And for me, that's a problem. This is why I support Smoke-Free Movies.  

Smoke-Free Movies

While on our family vacation in Collingwood last July, I came across a thought-provoking sign that read: "Dead people don't smoke." It highlighted the need for the tobacco industry to influence future potential smokers and how Hollywood provides them with an ideal way to do so. The mama bear in me awoke, as it was a hard reminder that I have a duty to not only raise children who have the knowledge and skills to make healthy decisions, but also do what I can to protect them from unnecessary exposure to onscreen smoking.


It should come as no surprise that movies influence kids. This is why, as part of grade 3 Health curriculum in Ontario, for example, we focus on the portrayal of violence in movies and how it can create an unrealistic view of the consequences of real violence. It’s the same with smoking. The more kids and teens see smoking in the movies, the more likely they are to start. Tobacco companies rely on this "dose-response" since they can no longer advertise via traditional methods, and as a result, 185,000 children and teens in Ontario will start smoking because of their exposure to onscreen smoking. In "Youth Exposure to Tobacco in Movies in Ontario, Canada: 20014-2014", a report based on the collaborative findings of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit and the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies,  it is stated that at least 59,000 will die from tobacco related diseases. That is 59,000 too many.



The Power to Change

Earlier this year, I signed a Smoke-Free Movie petition in support of a change to the rating system of new movies rated for children, one that would require new movies that contain tobacco to be rated 18A. I also joined a social media campaign to help spread the word on the importance of smoke-free movies knowing that, as evidence would suggest, eliminating onscreen smoking is an effective way to protect our children and youth from exposure to smoking. And now I write to you to encourage you to take action, too.

What Can You Do?

  • Sign the Smoke-Free Movie petition and encourage your families and friends to join you.
  • Talk to children and teens about smoking in movies. 
  • Check online to see if a movie is smoke free. 
  • Screen movies before allowing kids to watch.
  • Mail a letter to your MPP or to the Ontario Film Review Board.
Together, we have the power to affect a simple change to the Film Classification Act that would help protect our children. For more ways to get involved, visit smokefreemovies.ca.

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