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World No Tobacco Day 2018

May 28, 2018

World No Tobacco Day – Time’s Up for Smoking in Kids’ Movies!

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. While we have made considerable progress in reducing smoking rates, it is still the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario. Movies are one of the last places where tobacco use can be promoted. The evidence is clear that movies influence kids. Research from the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control and locally with the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit all conclude that the more smoking children see on-screen, the more likely it is that they will smoke. And they are definitely seeing it! While tobacco use is declining in the population, movies are not accurately reflecting that. Hollywood has a long history of tobacco promotion and although paid product placement and out-right advertising is now banned, there is still a connection with the deadly addiction and the silver screen. Movies often provide misleading and positive messages about smoking for young people. Over the last decade, 56% of movies released in Ontario contained smoking. Of these movies with smoking, 86% of them were rated for children or youth!

Rebecca Shams, Health Promoter for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, comments, “The Ontario Film Review Board currently considers things like violence, nudity and coarse language when rating films. With such clear evidence of the impact of viewing on-screen smoking, we are asking them to include smoking as a rating criterion. There is no reason that smoking needs to be in movies rated for children or youth.”

Ontario research has estimated that if all movies with smoking were adult-rated, it would avert at least 95,000 Ontario children and teens from becoming smokers, prevent more than 30,000 future tobacco deaths, and save more than a half a billion dollars in tobacco related healthcare costs. This small change could achieve substantial health and financial benefits.

As parents, we can have conversations with our children when we notice smoking in movies. Discussing the real effects of tobacco use as well as the industry’s motivation for including it helps to develop critical thinking and media literacy skills.

For more information on this, to help take action, or even to find out what new releases are smoke-free, visit


Rebecca Shams, Health Promoter, Tobacco Program
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
613-345-5685 extension 2259
Cell 613-802-8051

Yves Decoste, Tobacco Program Coordinator
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
613-345-5685 extension 2460