Lead author Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said top box office films last year showed more onscreen smoking than the prior year, reversing five years of steady progress in reducing tobacco imagery in movies.
Moreover, many of the top-grossing films of last year with significant amounts of smoking targeted a young audience, among them the PG-rated cartoon "Rango" and "X-Men: First Class." The U.S. surgeon general has reported the more smoking young people see in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking, Glantz said.
Some of the films that showed the most smoking were "period" movies, such as "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," and "Hugo," when smoking was more common, but others were fantasy films, including "Cowboys & Aliens," "Green Hornet" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1."
The study was conducted in conjunction with Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, which tracks tobacco use in the nation's top-grossing movies each year.
The findings were published in Preventing Chronic Disease Journal.
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