|UNC seminars to explore public health implications of tobacco use in movies, TV|
|January 15, 2004|
CHAPEL HILL -- How tobacco use in the Hollywood entertainment industry affects public health will be addressed in two Friday (Jan. 16) seminars to be held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The seminars, free to the public, will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the UNC School of Public Health's Ibrahim Seminar Room, 1301 McGavran-Greenberg Hall. Sponsors are the School of Public Health, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the UNC Pre-doctoral Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Training Program, housed within the School of Public Health.
The seminars - which explore First Amendment rights and artistic freedom of expression in relation to social responsibility regarding the portrayal of tobacco use in Hollywood films and television productions - come on the heels of the 40th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General's report detailing the health effects of cigarette use, released Jan. 11, 1964.
"We are excited to offer an opportunity to have dialogue on the Carolina campus about this important issue," said Dr. Kurt Ribisl, assistant professor of health behavior and health education in the School of Public Health, program director for the UNC Pre-doctoral Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Training Program and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Research has found smoking in movies to be quite common, even in children's feature films. A 1999 study by Dr. Adam O. Goldstein, assistant professor of family medicine in the UNC School of Medicine, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined 50 G-rated animated feature films released between 1937 and 1997. The study found that 56 percent of the films (28) portrayed one or more incidences of tobacco use, including all seven films released in 1996 and 1997. The Web site www.scenesmoking.org tracks smoking in movies on a weekly basis.
Friday's first seminar will present clips from the documentary "Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema & the Myth of Cool," starring Sean Penn, Ted Danson, Rob Reiner, Angie Dickinson and others. A discussion will follow.
Produced with funds from California's Tobacco Tax Health Protection Act of 1988, the 2001 film features entertainment and public health professionals discussing the depiction of tobacco on-screen.
The discussion will be moderated by Deirdre Imershein, the documentary's producer and a former Hollywood actress who has appeared in numerous television shows including "Dallas." Imershein is a consultant to the Office on Smoking and Health within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which promotes and distributes the film for educational purposes.
The second seminar will be a discussion moderated by a panel made up of Imershein and CDC experts, who will share how the entertainment industry has been both an ally and an obstacle to the public's health.
"In order to keep tobacco foremost in public policy, you need hooks to get the messages out and celebrities can help keep attention on the issue," said Melissa Havard, director of the entertainment initiative in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health and seminar panelist.
Havard works with Hollywood actors and directors to ensure that tobacco use is portrayed as accurately as possible in film and television productions, including showing possible consequences of use.
CDC figures show that every day more than 4,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 try their first cigarette in the United States. Recent CDC data also show that while declining among all other age groups, smoking rates remain highest among college-age adults. An October 2003 report confirms that smoking rates among ages 18 to 24 years rose from 23 percent in 1991 to nearly 27 percent in 2001.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 440,000 deaths each year nationwide, the CDC has reported.
Note: Ribisl can be reached at (919) 843-8042 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Imershein at (818) 430-1963 or email@example.com. Havard can be reached through Joel London in Media Relations at CDC's Office on Smoking and Health at (770) 488-5493.
UNC School of Public Health contact: Lisa Katz, (919) 966-7467 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UNC News Services contact: Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415 or email@example.com