And the oscar goes to...

March 5, 2014

And the Oscar goes to the film whose characters don’t smoke on screen

This past Sunday, actors, directors, writers and many more were acknowledged for creating blockbuster movies in 2013. I love the movies and enjoyed watching the Academy Awards. However, I don’t enjoy watching movies where the actors smoke on screen.

Smoking on screen in any movie sends the wrong message, but especially in PG or PG-13 rated movies. Teens like me might think it’s cool to smoke because we are seeing it on the big screen. As a member FACT, Wisconsin’s youth tobacco prevention program, I’ve learned a lot about how harmful tobacco is for people who smoke and people who are around people who smoke. The 2012 Surgeon General’s report showed that teens are more likely to start using tobacco because of seeing it in movies. Can you believe that tobacco use was seen 14.9 billion times in G, PG and PG-13 movies rated movies in 2012?

My parents and I recently watched the movie Freelancers, directed by Jessy Terrero staring Forest Whitaker, which featured smoking by the main character Mr. Whitaker who played a veteran police officer, training rookie police officers. Seeing the actors smoke in the movie surprised and upset me because I know that smoking is extremely dangerous to your health and the second hand smoke is bad for others. While the movie portrayed smoking as cool, fun and glamorous I knew it was not. It contains harmful materials such as tar, nicotine, Cyanide, Benzene, and Ammonia all known to be hazardous to the human body. For example smoking can lead to kidney failure and lung cancer and death.

Even though some movies continue to promote tobacco to teens, I’m doing my part to help other teens be tobacco-free. As a member of FACT we are spreading the truth about tobacco.

For more information on FACT, visit

James Hightower
Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network

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