Uncle Sam Wants The Movie Industry To Be A More Responsible Parent

Authorities at the Center for Disease Control said Friday that they will begin focusing on what they deem is a huge influence on children who begin smoking early – the movies. Parents everywhere rejoice that yet another aspect of parental responsibility has been taken off their shoulders. I’m kidding. From Yahoo News:

Authorities at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health said that voluntary efforts by movie studios to reduce tobacco use in youth-rated movies have been unimpressive. Data on tobacco use in movies will  be added to regular CDC reports to the public on smoking prevalence among youth and adults, total and per-capita cigarette consumption, and progress on tobacco control policies.

“We all have a responsibility to prevent youth from becoming tobacco users, and the movie industry has a responsibility to protect our youth from exposure to tobacco use and other pro-tobacco imagery in movies that are produced and rated as appropriate for children and adolescents,” said the lead author of the paper, Dr. Tim McAfee. “Eliminating tobacco imagery in movies is an important step that should be easy to take.”

Is it just me, or is this completely ridiculous? So now the focus isn’t on raising children with enough education and values to make their own decisions about the dangers that exist in the world, but rather focusing on providing a protective bubble for them to live in? A squeaky-clean environment where they are not exposed to all of the unhealthy choices that exist in reality – like smoking cigarettes? This is stupid.

When I was a kid, I loved the movie Grease. I idolized everything about Olivia Newton-John‘s character, but of course my favorite scene was the finale – where she transforms from a sweet,shy girl – into a bad-ass. God, I wanted those skin-tight black pants, and that amazing head of curly blond hair. I have no recollection of loving that she smoked, though. That didn’t affect me in the least. People smoked back then. My father smoked. I thought it was disgusting. My mom always taught me how bad it was. I had first-hand evidence from the persistent cough that rung through our house daily.  I was exposed to smoking, but was also able to come to my own conclusions about it.

I don’t think raising humans is about taking all dangers away and pretending like we live in a world filled with cotton candy and happiness. It’s about teaching our humans how to navigate all of the tough decisions out there. What’s next – eliminating the cooking of really fatty-foods in youth-related movies? We all know what an epidemic obesity is. What about eliminating overweight stars all together? We wouldn’t want our kids looking up to the wrong role models – would we?

I think time could better be spent cracking down on stores that sell to minors, or ticketing youth who are smoking. I live around the corner from a high school and there are tons of teenagers walking around smoking cigarettes when they get out of school. What better way to alert parents that there is a problem than presenting them with a fine – and opening up discussion in their homes? The point is – there are better ways to deal with the dangers of smoking. I think it makes more sense to deal with those dangers in reality – not in the make-believe world of movies.

(photo: Dan Breckwoldt/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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