By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - A Northern Kentucky anti-smoking group wants to stop the tobacco industry from marketing via youth-oriented movies.
Through flyers and palm cards, members of the Coalition of Minors Battling Tobacco (COMBAT) will inform customers of a Florence video store this afternoon how tobacco companies are targeting teens by placing their product in PG and PG-13 movies. Targeted movies include Sum of All Fears, XXX, Men in Black II and About a Boy.
"Hopefully, we'll increase people's awareness of how pervasive tobacco imagery is in movies targeted toward youths," said John Mains. The 17-year-old junior at Simon Kenton High School is chairman of COMBAT and a community health educator in charge of youth tobacco prevention for the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department.
"(Today's event) is the culmination of a project where we watched recent movies and selected a few that had heavy tobacco use and were targeted at teens," John said.
Previously, COMBAT placed informational cards in youth-oriented films at Rob's Video in Covington and Showtime Video in Alexandria. One side carries a 1972 quote from the head of a movie and TV company bragging how film is the best commercial for tobacco use "because the audience is totally unaware of any sponsor involvement." The other side relates how smoking kills 1,200 people a day and asks the video customer to "give that some thought as you're watching this movie."
Today's event at the Movie Gallery in Florence is part of COMBAT's observance of World No Tobacco Day.
The 15-year-old annual event is sponsored by the World Health Organization to show how tobacco use affects public health.
This year, anti-smoking advocates hope to show how the entertainment business increases tobacco use, especially among youths.
According to research from the Smoke Free Movies Campaign, two out of three tobacco shots in the 50 top grossing movies released from May 2000 through April 2001 were in kid-oriented G, PG and PG-13 films.
"People need to be aware that tobacco companies use a subtle form of advertising by placing their products in the movies," said Andrea Birkemeier, senior health educator for the Northern Kentucky health department.
Birkemeier said Kentucky has the highest middle school smoking rate in the U.S., or 21.5 percent, compared to an 11 percent average nationally. Kentucky teens in grades 9-12 rank third in the U.S. with a 37.4 percent smoking rate, compared to a 28 percent national average.
Kentucky also boasts the highest adult smoking rate in the U.S., with 30.5 percent of adults 18 and older smoking, Birkemeier said.
Dr. Gary Crum, public health director for the Northern Kentucky health department, said that research from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that nonsmoking teens whose favorite Big Screen stars smoke are more likely to view smoking favorably.
Aquarium seeking $4.5M expansion
Domestic killing charge upgraded
Brace for temps in 40s
IN THE TRISTATE
Whittier Elementary's principal says farewell
Colerain looks at kids' curfew
Pandering conviction voided
Frampton to play game
Blue Ash deputy manager resigns
Obituary: Jeffrey L. Wise, 18, criminology major in college
Tristate A.M. Report
GUTIERREZ: Family Leave Act
Faith Matters: Rabbi's twin in town for ceremony
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Springer stars in Butler Co.
Crash kills 2 in West Chester; driver charged
GOP calls off seat-switch
Fairfield trio take separate paths
Possible bomb in Union park
Buckeye Egg cited by FDA for ignoring rules
Boy's family drops alternative method to treat leukemia
24-hour cameras watch Cleveland street for crime
Tank's success in Iraq reflects well on Lima factory
Day camp meets the needs of kids who cope with cancer
Pendleton Co. investigates inmate abuse at Grant jail
Patton signs discrimination ban
Anti-smoking group brings fight close to home
Court strikes part of school nepotism law
Ky. Wesleyan president to step down
Students charged in huffing
Mine may account for bad water
More doctors face discipline
Critics upset by mining study
Fla. man files suit for abuse by Ky. priest
One person killed when blaze destroys mobile home
Justice joins Paducah environmental lawsuit