The 94th Academy Awards had many big moments. And the winner is (are in this scene): Reality Check youth champions from across Western New York. 25 students previewed this year’s ceremony with a show-stopping performance of their own—the Smoke-free Movies International Week of Action (IWOA).

An R rating for movies with tobacco use can potentially reduce the number of teen smokers by 18 percent, preventing up to 1 million premature smoking deaths among youth alive today.

Lights, camera, action.

Beginning March 21, 25 students from Olean to Falconer, NY,  engaged in these roles:

  • Watched 101 Dalmatians on Movie Monday
  • Learned the history of smoking in movies on Training Tuesday
  • Watched Cruella live with Reality Check members from across New York State on Wednesday
  • Played Smoke-free Movie Trivia on Thursday, and
  • Shared smoke-free movie facts on Friday using the hashtags #RateSmokingR and #HelpOscarQuit

During the Academy Awards show on Sunday, Reality Check leaders announced the winners of a Smoke-free Movies video contest youth participated in.

Why take action?

Despite all the work that has been done to counter smoking in movies, Hollywood continues to light up the screen with smoke.

“Addressing the issue of smoking in movies is important,” said Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check youth coordinator of Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties (TF-CCA). “Research has shown that youth who see smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking.”

More facts.

  • 44 percent of adolescents who start smoking do so because of smoking images they saw in movies.
  • An R rating for movies with smoking would lead to an 18 percent decline in teen smoking.
  • Youth who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking imagery are approximately two to three times likely to begin smoking, compared with youth who are lightly exposed.
  • It is projected that onscreen smoking will kill two million U.S. children and teens alive today.

IWOA is held each year during Oscar season allowing Reality Check youth to bring awareness to their community members about the issue of smoking in films. Many youth champions wrote letters to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA) demanding to keep youth-rated films (G, PG and PG-13) smoke, tobacco and vape free.

For more information on the Reality Check program or smoke-free movies, contact Jonathan Chaffee at [email protected].