March 15, 2018 10:25 am
Updated: March 15, 2018 11:13 am

Smoking in movies encourages youth to take up the habit, Peterborough public health officials say

Peterborough Public Heath team looks at movies with smoking and how it influences youth in picking up the habit.


When it comes to film and television, Peterborough health officials say smoking cigarettes has no place on the big or small screen.

On Tuesday night, board members from the Peterborough Public Health team heard a presentation on why smoking should be banned and restricted in films as it only normalizes a deadly habit.

READ MORE: Vancouver students call out movies promoting smoking in #NotSmokingHot campaign

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Peterborough’s medical officer of health, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, points out that smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the county. On average, 133 people die each year in the city from tobacco related diseases.

“We need to do everything we can to decrease the use of commercial tobacco in our society, and when actors use these products, it makes it much more appealing to others,” Dr. Salvaterra said.

In 2014, 86 per cent of films that contained smoking were G-rated films, says the Ontario Lung Association. That’s what sparked the presentation at the board meeting.

“We know that there is a direct correlation between youths seeing (smoking) in films and also them beginning to be tobacco consumers or even just trying it,” said Peterborough Public Health peer leader and presenter Meagan Lacombe. “It’s also a concern because films are the last place that tobacco companies can advertise to youth.”

READ MORE: Montreal suburb seeks ban on smoking in all public spaces

There is hope from the presenters that the public health board will lobby the government and film companies by targeting funding. Smoke-free films could have an advantage in applications for government funding, Lacombe suggested.

“The production companies can apply to get grant subsidies for the making of their films,” Lacombe said. “If they were to have tobacco use and imagery in their films, they wouldn’t be able to get funding for their movies.”

The group is also suggesting that the Ontario Film Board consider that any films portraying smoking be rated for adult audiences only.

In Ontario, tobacco use is directly responsible for 13,000 deaths each year.

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