Protect Youth by Rating Films Showing Smoking

February 19, 2016

Huron County, ON – Oscar excitement is building, but did you know that almost 40% of youth start smoking because they see it in movies?

The Huron County Health Unit helps raise awareness of the impact that smoking in movies has on children and youth. Public Health Promoter Sam Docherty is pleased to see the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on governments to change the rating of movies that show smoking.

“Research shows that 37% of youth start smoking because of what they see in movies. By giving an 18A rating to movies showing tobacco use, we could reduce the number of teen smokers. This could prevent about 43,000 premature deaths from smoking among Canadian children and youth alive today,” says Docherty.

The Health Unit is a member of the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies, an initiative that is working to prevent tobacco from being in movies that are rated for children and youth. This means giving movies containing tobacco use a rating of 18A, similar to that of an R rating in the United States.

According to the new WHO Smoke-Free Movies Report – From evidence to action, the third edition since its launch in 2009, movies showing use of tobacco products have enticed millions of children and youth worldwide to start smoking.

In Ontario, between 2004 and 2013, 57% of top grossing movies featured onscreen smoking, and 86% of movies with tobacco were youth-rated.
“With ever tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, film remains one of the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions,” says Dr. Douglas Bettcher, WHO’s Director for the Department of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases.

Bettcher says taking concrete steps, including rating films with tobacco scenes and displaying tobacco warnings before films with tobacco, can stop children around the world from being introduced to tobacco products and subsequent tobacco-related addiction, disability and death.

The recommendations provided by the WHO include the following, and are in line with those given by the OCSFM:

• Requiring age classification ratings for films with tobacco imagery to reduce overall exposure of youth to tobacco imagery in films.
• Certifying in movie credits that film producers receive nothing of value from anyone in exchange for using or displaying tobacco products in a film.
• Ending display of tobacco brands in films.
• Requiring strong anti-smoking advertisements to be shown before films containing tobacco imagery in all distribution channels (cinemas, televisions, online, etc).

For more information please go to or read the WHO report here:


For more information:
Our media contact is: Rita Marshall, Communications Co-ordinator, 519-482-3416 (1-877-837-6143) ext. 2023 or
Our spokesperson is: Sam Docherty, Public Health Promoter. Our media contact will connect you to the spokesperson on this topic.

For more information contact:

Rebecca Bartley, Communications Coordinator
519.482.3416 (ext 2023)