Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Smoking imagery in movies causes kids to smoke

A recent press release from Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSY) claims that 44% of Canadian teenagers 15 to 19 years of age who smoke, do so because of exposure to smoking in the movies. Uh-huh. Just seeing Bruce Willis or Sigourney Weaver light up on screen is “causing” tens of thousands of Canadian teenagers to become depraved nicotine addicts; destined for death . . . eventually.

The made for media report, released August 19, estimates that 130,000 teenage Canadians who currently smoke were “recruited” by their exposure to smoking in the movies, and that 43,000 will die prematurely from smoking. The study offered no prognostication for the remaining 87,000, but I think we can safely assume that they too will die . . . eventually.

The report, commissioned by PSY, is titled: “Tobacco Vector: How American movies, Canadian film subsidies and provincial rating practices will kill 43,000 Canadian teens alive today — and what Canadian governments can do about it.”

The anti-smoker cult claims seeing actors smoke in movies sends the message that smoking is normal and even commonplace. This, in turn, encourages young people to have a more positive view of smoking and smokers. And, that is simply unacceptable. Kids must be taught that smokers are filthy, foul smelling degenerates.

The report makes the incredible assertion that: “If young people were not exposed to smoking in movies, there would be about 130,000 fewer Canadian teenagers smoking.” And, of course, 43,000 deaths could be prevented over the next 70 years or so. Uh-huh.

Statistics, properly used, can be a wonderful tool. But . . .

Unfortunately, statistics can also be manipulated to mangle the facts and obscure the truth. Used by the unscrupulous, they can be a deliberately deceptive propaganda tool.

For example, Table 1 (page 1) in the PSY study notes that 13.8% (304,000) of teenagers between 15 and 19 are current smokers. Of that number, 44% (134,000) are caused by exposure to smoking imagery in the movies according to study author Jonathan Polansky.

Both the table and the study itself focus on the 44%, suggesting that a very large percentage of teenage movie goers are corrupted by on screen smoking. But, that's not the case. The data suggests that only 6% of teens will become “established” smokers because they've been “exposed” to smoking imagery in the movies. And even that number is highly speculative.

Think about it! Use a little common sense and don't be buffaloed by the bullshit and bafflegab. Only 13.8% of the teenage population are current smokers and less than half that number (roughly 6% of the total teenage population in that age group) are susceptible to the threat allegedly posed by on screen smoking.

But, that means only 1 in 16 teens exposed to on screen smoking adopted the habit. Does that really suggest the problem is kids seeing someone light up in the movies? Why weren't the other 15 influenced by watching those same movies? Are they somehow immune to smoking imagery? If 1 in 16 drivers who drove red cars ended up in an accident, would it be hailed as proof that red cars caused accidents?

Or, are we expected to believe that the 87% who didn't become smokers, or the 7% who were motivated to experiment with cigarettes for other reasons, were never exposed to smoking in the movies? On television? Were the 6% who took up smoking after seeing actors light up on screen exposed to smoking only in the movies? Did they never see adults or their peers smoking in the real world? Were they never offered a cigarette by friends or relatives?

As is usual with anti-smoker studies of this kind, a careful reading results in more questions than answers.

The Canadian study is not, in fact, a new study. To come up with their estimates, they simply applied the data from studies conducted in the US to the Canadian population. Those studies counted the number of “tobacco incidents” (the appearance of tobacco use, a tobacco product or a brand trademark) in a motion picture. By conducting a survey of what movies teens had seen, they were able to establish a correlation between the number of tobacco incidents and the teens who became “established” smokers. An established smoker is defined as anyone who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in his/her lifetime.

So, we have a study which suggests that 1 in 16 (roughly 6%) teenagers will become established smokers solely through exposure to on screen smoking imagery. The other 94% are apparently unaffected by seeing people smoke in films. There can be no comparison done to to determine how many teenagers who have not been exposed to smoking in the movies or on television will become established smokers, because no such animal exists.

In fact, we have a bunch of anti-smoker fanatics demanding censorship of film based on little more than idle speculation.

Seeing actors smoke on screen may cause kids to view smoking as normal or even common place. But, then again, the reality is that roughly 20% of the population smoke. And, removing smoking scenes from movies denies that reality.

But, I wonder . . .

If smoking imagery in the movies can entice kids to smoke, how many slasher movies would a teenage boy have to see before donning a mask and chasing girls with a butcher knife a la Michael Meyers? Or go berserk with a chain saw?


Leg-iron said...

If it wasn't for the antismokers pushing smoking Every Single Day, there would be fewer kids taking it up.

But then if fewer kids took it up, the antismokers would be out of a job.

So it's in their interests to recruit for us.

What a bunch of idiots.

Anonymous said...

Of cours eseeing million sof smokers turned out onto the streets has absolutely nothing to do with these figures does it? The anti smoking lobby have caused this problem no the entertainment industry. They above all people are the single greatest risk to children.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite programmes years ago when I was a young person was Popeye.
I still hate spinach though !!

Anonymous said...

Since the film industry started smoking an drinking (an don't forget it) have been in the plot in some form or another, are we just creating another "Hayes Commition"cencorship just for the sake of cencorship is this going to be just the beginning of the cencorship the former soviet union emposed on actors writters directors,in a democracy people can use thier voices to create a dictatatorship within a democracy, in the end no good for young or old.