Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kids addicted to tobacco thru movies

Rio Bravo is one of my favourite John Wayne movies. The “Duke” and his compadres, with guns ablaze, kill off a bunch of bad guys. So what’s the problem? The problem is that, in the movie, John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson all roll their own and light up, sometimes blowing smoke rings as they enjoy their cigarettes and croon about “My Rifle, My Pony and Me”.

And, that has some anti-smoker fanatics concerned. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), for example, claims that:
  • Smoking in movies is "one of the gravest threats to U.S. teens”;
  • On-screen tobacco recruits 390,000 new teen smokers each year in the U.S. and;
  • Movies with tobacco help to recruit one-third to one-half of young smokers in the U.S.
Of course, up here in the rugged, snowbound wilderness called Canada, we know better. When it comes to “recruiting” our kids to a smoking lifestyle, the real problem is “Power Walls” (tobacco displays in convenience stores).

But, back to the movies.

Linda Titus-Ernstoff, a pediatrics professor at Dartmouth Medical School, is the author of a “study” which claims: "Movies seen at the youngest ages had as much influence over later smoking behavior as the movies which children had seen recently,"

"And I'm increasingly convinced that this association between movie-smoking exposure and smoking initiation is real," she added. "That's to say, causal. It is quite improbable that the association we see is due to some other influence, some other characteristic inherent in children or parental behavior. The relationship is clearly between movie-smoking and smoking initiation." is an anti-smoker web site dedicated to the proposition that kids will become instant addicts should they be exposed to the ghastly sight of seeing someone light up a cigarette on screen. They have a little counter at the foot of their site that reads, “(X number of) kids have become addicted from seeing tobacco in movies since you hit this site.” Uh-huh; just watching the movies got them “hooked”.

The group, apparently, has their own board of censors, referred to as “reviewers”. And, of course, they have their banned list. An example from their website: “Here are some movies being released in the coming weeks that you may want to think about before you see. Our reviewers have seen tobacco in the trailers, indicating tobacco use in the film.” Geez, I hope the “reviewers” were all consenting adults.

Their reviews were short and to the point, “Leatherheads – George Clooney directs and stars, Renee Zellweger smokes cigarettes.”

But, if alcohol, drugs, sex, and violence are acceptable in films, as long as they stay within limits, how can smoking be unacceptable. Does no one see the hypocrisy of a zero-tolerance policy for cigarettes, but a very different, much more liberal, policy for alcohol, sex and violence?

    Or, are all those things on the behavioural modification list of the anti-everything extremists?

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