Can Movies Cause Teens to Smoke?

2018 Tobacco in Youth-Rated (G/PG/PG-13) Movies. Incidents Per Movie Up 34% from 2017. PG-13 movies without tobacco up 62% from 2017. 10.3 billion audience tobacco impressions delivered by youth-rated films, up 103% from 2017. Youth rated films delivered 63% of tobacco impressions.

Image by CDC. 

Do you think what you see in movies affects your choices? Research shows that it does—especially when it comes to smoking.

In fact, young people who see images of people smoking in movies are more likely to smoke.

The good news is that the percentage of youth-rated movies (G, PG, and PG-13) that were smoke free increased from 35 percent to 69 percent between 2002 and 2018. However, youth-rated movies that show any smoking show more of it.

The average number of tobacco use incidents (i.e., a single occurrence of tobacco use) in movies depicting any tobacco use reached an historic high in 2018. This number was 64 percent higher than the year before.

This infographic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells the story*:







Read a text version of this infographic.

So, be a “smart watcher.” When you see people smoke in movies, think: Does it affect the way you feel about smoking—in either direction?

Learn more: Which ingredient in cigarettes causes addiction?

*(A “tobacco impression” is one person seeing one incident of smoking in a movie. “Impressions” are a measure of the total audience who saw smoking incidents in movies.) 

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