Burke Catholic students rally against on-screen smoking in youth films

Members of John S. Burke Catholic High School’s Reality Check club raising awareness of the impact of smoking in films.

GOSHEN – The Oscars won’t take place until February 9, but students from John S. Burke Catholic High School are already doing their part to push for a new rating system for films that include on-screen smoking. On this past Saturday, members of the school’s Reality Check club stood outside the AMC Crystal Run 16 movie theatres to raise awareness of the issue.

Their effort was in observance of the International Week of Action which is held each year during Oscar season to bringing awareness to smoking in films. In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that exposure to smoking on screen influences children to smoke in real life.

A banner made and held by Burke Catholic students read, “On-screen smoking will recruit 6.4 million new young smokers in this generation, two million of whom will die from tobacco-induced cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke.”

According to a statement by the students, the U.S. Surgeon General reports that making future youth-rated movies smoke-free could reduce teen smoking rates by nearly 20 percent — preventing one million tobacco deaths from cancer and other diseases.

The students also said that one proven way to reduce youth exposure is to give all films with on-screen smoking an R-rating. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the studios’ organization that assigns ratings, currently provides a “smoking label” along with the regular rating for some movies that contain smoking. However, almost 9 of every 10 (89 percent) youth-rated, top-grossing movies with smoking do not carry an MPAA “smoking label.”

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York State. For more information about Reality Check, visit www.realitycheckofny.com.



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