Each year International Week of Action is held during Oscar season to spread awareness to communities about smoking in films. This year this week is celebrated April 19-25. In 2012 the U.S. surgeon general concluded that exposure to smoking on screen causes kids to smoke.
Since the break in the COVID-19 pandemic, viewership has spiked in big streaming services such as Netflix, HULU and Disney+, which makes it harder for parents to monitor what their kids are watching. Streaming programs may have the same effect on kids and have created more opportunities for exposure to vaping and tobacco imagery.
As a proud member of Reality Check that fights against tobacco marketing tactics, I will continue to tell the truth to expose Big Tobacco lies. To protect kids from tobacco promotion and to reduce the risk of them ever starting to smoke, changing the rating to R or TV-MA will help greatly reduce these problems. Making the future movies smoke-free for youth-rated films could reduce teen smoking rates by nearly 20% — this would be preventing one million tobacco deaths from cancer and many other diseases.
I strongly encourage parents, teachers and community members to send a message to the streaming and movie industry that enticing kids to vape or smoke has to come to an end once and for all.
Déjah Evans-Murphy is a student at Auburn High School.