(Long Island, NY) Over 180 Reality Check youth leaders and tobacco control staff from across New York State joined with Hamilton community members at Colgate University for a selfie chain to support giving smoking in movies an R rating. Tobacco related illness is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. One of the primary causes of youth smoking is smoking in movies.
Sam Moustafa of Southampton was proud to be part of this statewide event. “I feel it’s important to be part of a movement that helps protect other youth from starting to smoke. Being involved with Reality Check allows youth to make a difference around issues such as keeping smoking out of youth rated films.”
Michael Hoffner Reality Check LI coordinator and Southampton Resident Sam Moustafa at Reality Check Youth Summit. Photo Credit: Reality Check LI.
“Reality Check works to reduce youth exposure to tobacco marketing which includes in stores and on screen. Today, we are focusing on smoking in movies because according to the Center for Disease Control, giving smoking an R rating could save the lives of 1 million kids alive today. Why would a movie studio NOT want to do that? I am proud to be here today raising awareness about this serious issue,” says Jordyn Camp, 17, of Eaton. She joined the others taking selfies while holding signs proclaiming, One little letter can save a million kids.
Just this year, Disney increased the effectiveness of their policy by including most films Disney works on in their smoke-free movies policy. While Disney is helping keep tobacco marketing off screen, other studios, like Time Warner who recently advised their shareholders to vote “NO” to a similar proposal, still need some convincing. While it is important to communicate with the major movie studio parent companies to ask them to create their own policies, even more effective would be an industry wide policy giving smoking an R rating. We are only halfway through 2015 and already seven out of ten kid-rated movies with smoking came from independent film companies, making a push for an industry standard set by the Motion Picture Association of America imperative.
Michael Hoffner, Reality Check Coordinator for Long Island said, “Spreading the message that we want smoking out of movies that our youth are watching is important but what a great moment to have so many young people insisting that smoking be kept out of THEIR movies. Nobody wants to help hook kids on a deadly habit, but that’s what the movie industry is doing. It’s time for a change in the way tobacco is portrayed on screen and anyone can help make a difference.”
If this simple change is something you would like to advocate for, share your opinions on social media with #RateSmokingR and visit www.RealityCheckofNY.com to find your local Reality Check program.
Reality Check is a New York State youth-led, adult supported group against the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry and the way they market their products towards youth. Reality Check youth work to expose the truth about the way the tobacco industry advertises and tries to eliminate those marketing opportunities in their community.
Reality Check LI is part of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island which is funded by the NY Tobacco Control Program through a grant administered by the American Lung Association of the Northeast. To learn more visit RealityCheckLI.org.