Smoking in youth-rated films is a leading cause of youth smoking, this is according to university studies and the Center for Disease Control.

An R rating for movies that feature smoking could avert 1 million children from an early death caused by smoking. Reality Check, a statewide youth program funded by New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control, has focused on fighting tobacco imagery on screen for the last fifteen years. Over that time, youth exposure to smoking in movies has been cut in half.

Local Reality Check Coordinator, Heather Bernet, was honored to be the lead presenter on the National Smoke Free Movies webinar Oct. 26 providing examples of how New York State youth are fighting for an R rating.

Bernet encouraged states to increase their efforts on this initiative and recognized the nationwide gains will come when state’s work together.

“It is the passion and drive of the youth who have made a difference,” Bernet said. “They have mobilized their communities and educated the ultimate decision-makers about the public health costs of toxic tobacco imagery. The MPAA needs to give an R rating to movies that feature smoking in order to drastically reduce youth smoking in our country.”

Bernet shared the call with the Bureau of Tobacco Control’s Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities Program Manager Elizabeth Anker, Stanton Glantz and Jono Polansky from the University of California San Francisco.  Participants on the webinar included The American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and tobacco control advocates from Connecticut, California, and Ontario, Canada. To get involved visit University of California’s Smoke Free Movies website at

By martha

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