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Movies Show Less Tobacco Use, CDC Study Finds

Michael Matisse/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Top-grossing, youth-rated films have significantly slowed the frequency of smoking over the past five years, according to a CDC report released Thursday.

The study found that total on-screen tobacco occurrences fell by 72 percent between 2005 and 2010. The average number of smoking incidents per youth-rated movie decreased from 20.1 to 6.8 during the same time period.

Despite the Hollywood's progress, 45 percent of the top-grossing movies still show tobacco use including 31 percent of youth-rated films.

On Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for Hollywood producers to continue to cut down use of tobacco in films even further.  The organization of pediatric medical specialists also wants the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to approve new rating policies that would give an "R" rating to films featuring tobacco use.

Saying that on-screen smoking is the biggest threat to child health, AAP President O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, doesn't want to compete with glamorized tobacco imagery.

"As pediatricians and parents, we do our best to help kids understand the dangers of tobacco use.  But if we're competing with movies that glamorize smoking to kids, it's an uphill battle," Burton said.

"It’s possible for media companies to change the way they expose children to these images by embracing responsible policies, such as the R-rating, considered to be effective by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those companies that have done so should be commended, and the others should follow suit."

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