Study: Movie characters smoking less, drinking more

Updated
n_cycle_smoke
n_cycle_smoke

These days we embrace the booziness in The Hangover, but it’s been a long time since Lauren Bacall alluringly lit one up. Hollywood has been choosing booze over cigarettes.

A new study from JAMA Pediatrics shows that more characters in the movies indulge in on-screen drinking while the number of people smoking in films has taken a steep fall.

Since the tobacco industry was hit with a major settlement agreement in 1998 that banned product placement deals for TV and movies, there’s been an exponential decline of smoking in the media. While this is happening, there has also been an increase in characters drinking on screen in films rated for teens and below.

n_cycle_stats

The clear, significant decline in smoking on the big screen after the 1998 settlement is one example of a government entity helping to shape what’s seen in American popular culture, and often, ultimately, in American life. A survey found that teen smoking hit an all time low last year, and a recent CDC study saw adult smoking on a slow decline.

A decade and a half after the settlement, groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, Smoke Free Movies, and their partners have launched ads calling for on-screen tobacco use to be restricted to R-rated movies.

“The attorneys general got tobacco to not only pay up for a lot of the damages, but also pull back from this,” The Cycle host Ari Melber said Friday on the effect of the 1998 settlement. “They knew, they didn’t need a study. They already knew this was how to get people smoking.”


Cycle host Touré added, “I’m happy to see Hollywood and TV stop being used as a proxy for big tobacco and allowing ads to sort of infiltrate into the television shows and movies. It used to be that to be cool in a movie you had to smoke, and we had to get away from that.”

Watch The Cycle’s full discussion on drinks, cigarettes, the media, and how the government plays into popular culture in the player above.

Explore:

Study: Movie characters smoking less, drinking more

Updated