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SMOKE SCREEN

- Area Residents Asked to Lobby for Stronger Film Rating System to Ensure Movies For Youth Are Smoke-Free -

Lights… camera… action!

Local residents are being encouraged to fight Hollywood’s ‘smoke screen’ by ensuring movies rated for Ontario children and teenagers do not show tobacco products and smoking images. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is joining with other Ontario health units and the Ontario Lung Association to promote the #SmokeFreeMovies campaign, just days before the start of the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF is one the most celebrated festivals of its kind in the world, drawing many high-profile movie stars and film producers to Ontario.

“When young people see smoking in movies, they are more likely to start using tobacco products themselves,” says Karen Taylor, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Because movies have so much influence, it’s important that they be made smoke-free.”

Locally, the Health Unit is promoting the smoke-free movies message by placing posters in Haliburton County, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County. Grassroots activities are planned with youth volunteers in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The Health Unit is also encouraging local parents and caregivers to visit the #SmokeFreeMovies website. On that site, people are asked to lobby provincial politicians for a stronger film rating system that would deter smoking from being shown in movies aimed at young people.

According to Taylor, tobacco companies have a long, documented history of paying Hollywood actors, actresses and movie producers to have their products and brands appear in movies. “It pays off for tobacco companies because smoking in films makes the practice more appealing to young moviegoers,” she notes.

Based on research conducted for the #SmokeFreeMovies campaign, smoking appears in many movies in Ontario rated for youth (including ‘G,’ ‘PG,’ and ‘14A’). In 2013 alone, 86 per cent of movies that depicted smoking were rated as being OK for Ontario youth to see.

The Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB) provides ratings on all movies shown in the province. Taylor and other supporters of the #SmokeFreeMovies campaign want the OFRB to add an automatic ‘18A’ rating on any film that contains smoking. An ‘18A’ rating means no one under 18 years of age can see the movie, unless accompanied by an adult.

“If the Ontario Film Review Board considers language, nudity, violence, sexual activity, horror and psychological impact when assigning ratings to movies, why not do the same for tobacco and smoking?” Taylor asks.

For media inquiries, contact:

Karen Taylor, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, ext. 2263, or 1-866-888-4577.

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