Hollywood Stars Encourage Youngsters to Smoke
ABC News (Australia)
Saturday, February 24, 2001
Not a Pretty Woman
Leading Hollywood actors John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone and Julia Roberts have been accused of
encouraging young people to take up smoking by lighting up on screen. Research published in the British
Tobacco Control journal found United States students aged 10 to 19 whose favourite stars smoked on
screen were more likely to smoke than those whose favorite stars never smoked in movies.
More than 630 students from rural schools in New England were surveyed about their smoking habits
and their attitudes to smoking for the study, and were asked to name their favourite movie star.
The researchers then assessed on-screen smoking by 43 movie stars in films made between 1994 and 1996.
They found youths whose favourite stars smoked on screen were far likelier to smoke than their classmates
whose favourite actors never smoked, and the more the actor smoked, the more favourably the teen viewed smoking.
Fans of DiCaprio, Stone and Travolta, who each smoked in three or more films, were 16 times likelier to
express a favourable opinion about smoking than those who chose "non-smoking" stars.
"Mass media portrayals of smoking among favoured movie stars contribute to adolescent smoking which
is, in turn, a causal link in what remains the leading cause of premature death and the number one
preventable public health problem in the developed world," the researchers write.
Not Just Hollywood Movies -- TV as well
I recently watched an episode of a TV show I have
enjoyed for several months. It is a medical series, well done
and very interesting, but I will not watch it again. The
reason? During the show, which is fictional, four of the
doctors were having a conversation in a medical setting. Two
of the doctors were nonchalantly smoking cigarettes. . .
What you have just described is a subtle form of
"product placement." Whether or not the brand of the
cigarette was shown, it was, nevertheless, a clever
endorsement of smoking by someone portraying a medical
This is reprehensible, to put it politely. . .
I hope others who notice this sort of product placement
will write to the people who produce and sponsor the show and
let them know how they feel about it.
A study in the current edition of The Lancet [complete
] has generated a great deal of media coverage. The authors viewed the contents of the top 25
US box-office films for each year of release, from 1988 to 1997, and found:
"More than 85% of the films contained tobacco use. Tobacco brands appeared
in 70 (28%) films." Brad Pitt (at right) is shown glamorizing cigarettes in his recent
movie, Fight Club.
The authors also found "there was a striking increase in
the type of brand appearance depicted, with actor endorsement increasing
from 1% of films before the [1989 voluntary ban on paid product placement by
the tobacco industry] to 11% after. Four US cigarette brands accounted for
80% of brand appearances." Finally, the authors find: "The most highly
advertised US cigarette brands account for most brand appearances, which
suggests an advertising motive to this practice."
By way of modest contrast to the
Lancet study, the author of a letter to the editor of the British Medical
Journal (BMJ) defends tobacco industry advertising practices, noting that
"every manufacturer of a legal product will do everything within the law to
Marlboro cigarettes accounted for 40% of the brands depicted in films. A recently discovered
tobacco industry document illustrates the role Hollywood plays in tobacco marketing and
promotion. From Philip Morris files related to the National Smokers' Alliance, this document
highlights "Possible Advisory Board Members (including some candidates for spokesperson)" see
& page 2
New York Times/Reuters
Friday, January 5, 2001
LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood stars who smoke in films encourage young fans
to do the same, according to a new U.S. study published on Friday.
And despite a ban on tobacco companies paying film-makers to place their
products in the movies, there is no sign that the practice is becoming less
common, according to the research published in the British medical journal,
Doctors led by James Sargent of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in
Lebanon, New Hampshire, looked at the 25 top U.S. box office releases for
the years 1988 to 1997 -- 250 movies in total.
They found that more than 85 percent of the films featured tobacco use and
specific tobacco brands appeared in 28 percent of the movies.
Tobacco brands appeared in almost as many films suitable for adolescent
audiences as for adults.
Among films suitable for youngsters that featured tobacco brands the
researchers singled out Ghostbusters II, Home Alone 2 (Lost in New York),
Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Kindergarten Cop, Men in Black, My Best Friend's
Wedding, The Nutty Professor and Volcano.
The researchers also compared films produced before the 1989 voluntary ban
on paid product placement by the tobacco industry and those made afterwards.
Overall, there was no change in the prevalence of tobacco brand appearances
as a result of the ban and there was a "striking increase" in endorsement
of brands in films by actors.
Before the ban, these actor endorsements occurred in one percent (1%) of films,
while after the ban this rose to eleven percent (11%).
The study suggested that despite the ban on paid product placement, "the
tobacco industry might continue to pay directly or through in-kind payments
for placement of its brands in films."
Four U.S. cigarette brands accounted for 80 percent of brand appearances in
"Tobacco-brand appearances are common in films and are becoming
increasingly endorsed by actors," the study said.
"The most highly advertised U.S. cigarette brands account for most brand
appearances, which suggests an advertising motive to this practice."
The article printed several pictures from films where actors could be seen
endorsing Marlboro cigarettes, including Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's
Wedding. Tobacco-control advocates are concerned about the depiction of tobacco use
on screen because of the potential effect it could have on adolescents
starting and carrying on smoking," the researchers said.
They said that studies had shown "an association between on-screen smoking
in an adolescent's favorite movie actor and his or her own smoking
Ban Fails to Stop Film Smoking Ads
Cigarettes Still Often Featured in Films
Friday, 5 January, 2001
Cigarettes are still prominently displayed in films, despite a voluntary ban
on "product placements" a decade ago, say researchers.
A study of the top 25 US box office films each year from 1988 to 1997 found
the use of actors to promote cigarette brands had increased ten-fold.
The researchers say it is uncertain whether film makers are flouting the
ban, or if certain brands are used to add realism to the film.
Anti-smoking campaigners in the UK said they believe the tobacco companies
were finding ways around the restrictions.
Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire, looked at how
often the brand name, logo or trademark was seen, and how often actors were
seen handling or smoking certain brands.
85% contained tobacco use
28% included tobacco brands
32% of films aimed at teenagers included brand placements compared to 35% of
those for adult audiences
They appeared in 20% of children's film
Actor endorsement increased from 1 - 11% of branch appearance
Four US brands made up 80% of appearances
There are as many product placements for top tobacco brands after as before
the 1990 ban. The researchers say the increasing prevalence of just a few brands suggest
they are being actively advertised. The placements reach an international audience, with revenues outside the
USA accounting for 49% of the total income for the films studied.
Only one previous study has involved the assessment of tobacco-brand
placement. It did not report an increasing trend in tobacco brand use
between 1985 and 1995.
Dr James Sargent led the research, which found a quarter of the 250 films
studied featured recognisable brands. Marlboro cigarettes accounted for 40% of the brands depicted in films,
including My Best Friend's Wedding, Men in Black and Volcano.
The appearance of cigarette brands in films, especially when endorsed by
actors, is no different from other forms of cigarette advertising.
Dr James Sargent, Researcher
One in five films aimed at children had some kind of "brand apppearance",
including Home Alone 2 starring Macaulay Culkin, and Honey, I Shrunk the
Kids. Dr Sargent said: "The appearance of cigarette brands in films, especially
when endorsed by actors, is no different from other forms of cigarette
advertising. "Any country that uses advertising restrictions to control tobacco use
should restrict this practice."
Dr Sargent said: "Actor endorsement of a cigarette brand associates a type
of person with that brand. "As viewers assimilate these attitudes towards tobacco use become more
favourable." He said there was concern about the depiction of tobacco use on screen
because of the potential effect it could have on teenagers' smoking habits.
Dr Sargent added: "The concern is the same for populations in countries
where US tobacco products are heavily marketed, and where people are
receptive to the advertising message, for whom films present a seductive,
affluent, imaginary world."
Before the 1990 ban, tobacco companies paid tens of thousands of pounds to
place their cigarettes in the hands of a film's star.
But the code is only voluntary and does not stop films featuring cigarette
brands, just payment for endorsements.
"Finger of suspicion"
Amanda Sandford, research manager for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
said: "Although paid product placement of cigarette brands was supposed to
have ended in the late 1980s, it looks as though tobacco companies are still
using actors to advertise their brands.
Amanda Sandford of ASH: "Marketing tool"
"Branded products don't just appear by accident - a lot of planning goes
into what products appear in films and who will be using them.
"The finger of suspicion points towards a tobacco industry campaign to get
round other marketing restrictions."
She said the presence of tobacco brands in films aimed at children "makes a
mockery" of the tobacco industry's claims it is not targeting the youth
market. The research is published in The Lancet.
Tobacco Firms in Row Over Film Ban
Friday, 5 January, 2001
There is widespread coverage of a new report published in The Lancet. The
Guardian reports that, 'Hollywood actors are increasingly endorsing
cigarette brands in films, leading to allegations by medical researchers
that the movie and tobacco industries might be flouting a ban on payments
for "product placements" in films. The use of actors to promote the most
popular tobacco brands has increased tenfold since the voluntary ban was
introduced in the US in 1990.
The Guardian further reports, 'The findings have alarmed anti-smoking
groups. Studies have shown that smoking by teenagers is strongly influenced
by the use of tobacco by their favourite actor. "Tobacco companies know full
well that kids are going to see these films and this is probably a
deliberate tactic to target the youth market," said Amanda Sandford,
research manager for the charity Action on Smoking and Health.
The researchers, from Dartmouth Medical School in the US, said that several
possibilities could explain continued tobacco brand appearance in films,
from the tobacco industry continuing to pay directly or through payments in
kind, to directors using brand imagery to increase a sense of realism or to
convey character traits. However, flouting the payment ban would be
consistent with regular violation of the cigarette advertising code by the
tobacco industry since its inception in 1964.
The article adds, 'The study looked at the top 25 US box office films for
each year from 1988 to 1997. The researchers found that before 1990, 1% of
the top US box office films showed actors with a recognisable brand of
cigarette on screen. But in the years after the ban, 11% of the films showed
actors endorsing a brand.
The four most highly advertised US cigarette brands accounted for the most
on-screen appearances, including those in hits such as My Best Friend's
Wedding, Men in Black and Volcano. More than a quarter of all 250
films studied featured recognisable tobacco brands, including shots of
billboards, shop fronts, logos and packets.
Actors Smoking More in Movies Than Before Ban
Thursday, 4 January, 2001
..."I can't tell you as a scientist why we are seeing more actor
endorsements but we do know that having a famous person endorse a product is
effective," said M. Bridget Ahrens, one of the researchers from Dartmouth's
Norris Cotton Cancer Center... "We don't have any proof of how the
cigarettes got there -- be it clandestine payments, free samples to a
particular set designer, or an actor who just happens to smoke that brand,"
Ahrens said. "But now that we see it and we know what the effect is, we
need to answer the question of why it is there."
... Marlboro is the nation's leading cigarette brand, and that may play a role in its frequent
use in films, said Tom Ryan, a spokesman for Philip Morris. "Philip Morris
doesn't provide any payment for the placement of any cigarette package or
cigarette brand advertisements in movies or on television," for at least
the past 10 years, Ryan said. "We routinely decline permission when people
in the entertainment industry solicit us for our products or permission to
Adults Smoke More on Screen Than in Life
Monday, 15 January, 2001
Increasing smoke clouds on the silver screen may mean more
kids will be lighting up, say local anti-smoking activists
after the release of a new study by Dartmouth Medical
"It's dangerous," said Diane Knight, coordinator of the
Tobacco Free Network at Community Action in Haverhill. "So
many young people go to the movies. That's part of their
recreation. .... Even if they don't think they are getting
the message (smoking is cool), they are."
One consequence of the frequent smoking in movies may be
kids think more people smoke than actually do. Diane Pickles,
program director for Health Communities Tobacco Awareness
Program, finds most children believe more adults smoke than
actually do. Only one in seven Massachusetts adults smokes.
She thinks perceptions like that feed into the fact that
1,500 youths under 18 start smoking every day. . .
The Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program offers a video
called Smoke Screeners to educators. The video teaches
students to look critically at smoking messages in the media.
More information is available by calling 1-888-8NO-DRAG