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Smoking in movies — Help Oscar Quit!

ATHENS, Ga. – Tobacco is still the largest cause of preventable death in Georgia and in the rest of America. Smoking kills nearly half a million adults every year. During the week before the Oscars, St. Mary’s and Trinity Health are asking for the community to Help Oscar Quit.

Smoke free - Help Oscars Quit smokingSmokefree Movies is an organization working to raise the rating of movies that feature smoking to decrease the number of young adults exposed to tobacco use. As the voice behind the #HelpOscarQuit movement, they are initiating a Week of Action leading up to the 2018 Oscars. St. Mary’s has joined the fight to reduce smoking exposure in youth–rated films.

According to Smokefree Movies, smoking was featured in 86 percent of films nominated in major categories this year. This is the highest percent of tobacco use in nominated films in the past four years. The US Surgeon General has confirmed that smoking and tobacco use featured in movies causes kids to start smoking.

“We see the disastrous effects of smoking every day, including heart attacks, strokes, lung disease, peripheral artery disease and more,” said Montez Carter, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Health Care System. “The best way to treat these conditions is to prevent them, and the best way to prevent them is to never start smoking. We need to come together and convince Hollywood that our kids don’t need to be exposed to smoking in the movies.”

Of the PG-13 youth–rated films that are nominated this year, 50 percent of featured smoking. All 16 of the R-rated movies featured tobacco use, Smokefree Movies says.

The CDC estimates that giving a film that features smoking and tobacco use an R rating could prevent a million tobacco deaths in this generation of young adults. With the help of the community, St. Mary’s hopes to help prevent smoking-related deaths by urging the industry to raise the rating of movies that feature smoking.

Continue reading for a sample letter and industry CEO addresses so that you can make your voice heard.

Oscars® and Smoking | 2018 | Sample letter

Letters — the kind with stamps — work better than email. They work best when they reflect your personal concerns as a young person, a parent or grandparent, health professional, teacher or other concerned member of the community. The text below can help you think through what you want to say, but make the words your own. We’ve also included a list of people you can write.

Two hints:

(1) Letters to the editor may have strict length limits.
(2) To make your letter to a CEO even more effective, cc: it to your state’s Attorney General (look up the name and address online).

Dear [Editor / CEO / Retail manager / Policymaker]:

Tobacco is still the biggest cause of preventable death in Georgia and the rest of America, killing nearly half a million adult smokers every year. So why are so many kids still starting to smoke?

Just look at the movies nominated for 2018 Oscars to see one obvious reason. 86% of these films feature smoking. They’ve already delivered nearly 6 billion tobacco exposures to theater audiences of all ages — and will expose even more kids on video. No parent wants her child to smoke. But kids can’t avoid smoking on screen.

The US Surgeon General has confirmed that watching movies with smoking causes kids to smoke. For decades, the tobacco companies spent millions of dollars to put smoking and their brands on screen. Movies are still the last unrestricted promotional channel for pushing tobacco to children and teens. We need to get tobacco out of the movies that kids see most.

The CDC reports that simply R-rating future movies with smoking can stop a million tobacco deaths in this generation of kids. The Hollywood studios control the rating system. Why haven’t they taken this step? Instead, as the Oscar films show, they’re still packing movies with smoking.

Why is the movie business still doing the tobacco industry’s dirty work, recruiting millions of new, young smokers to replace each smoker killed by tobacco?

I’m a [mother / father / teacher / health professional / middle or high school student] myself. I love movies. But I hate the fact that Hollywood knows the harm it’s doing, yet does nothing serious about it. There are plenty of others in my community who care about this. I’m writing on behalf of my family, my neighbors, my friends. Smoking in movies kills in real life. Protect our kids now.


2018 Oscars® and Smoking | 2018 | Where to write

Please write a personal letter to at least one of the top company executives on this list and cc: your state’s Attorney General, who has a mandate to keep tobacco companeis from pushing tobacco at kids. The Parent media companies own the major Hollywood studios. Independent film companies also contribute lots of onscreen smoking. Movie retailers (like theaters, big box stores and cable companeis with on-demand movie services) are often right on Main Street.

We don’t recommend writing to the trade groups (MPAA and NATO) because they only do what their member companies direct them to do. It’s up to the companies to take action.



(Owns Universal, Focus Features, Illumination, Working Title)
Mr. Brian L. Roberts
Chairman, CEO and President Comcast Corporation
One Comcast Center Philadelphia, PA 19103


(Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Touchstone)
Mr. Robert A. Iger Chairman and CEO
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521


(20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000, Blue Sky)
Mr. James Rupert Murdoch
Chief Operating Officer
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036


(Columbia, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures, Sony Classics, TriStar)
Mr. Kazuo Hirai
President and CEO
Sony Corporation
1-7-1 Konan
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075 Japan

Time Warner

(Warner Bros., New Line)
Mr. Jeffrey L. Bewkes
Chairman and CEO
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019


(Insurge, MTV Films, Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Classics, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage)
Mr. Robert M. Bakish
Chief Executive Officer
Viacom Inc.
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036


(Trade group of major studios, administers the film ratings)
The Hon. Charles Rivkin
Chief Executive Officer
Motion Picture Association of America
15503 Ventura Boulevard
Encino, CA 91436



David Fenkel, John Hodges, Daniel Katz
A24 Films LLC
8321 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90048

Broad Green

Mr. Matt Alvarez, President
Mr. Gabriel Hammond, CEO
6555 West Barton Avenue, Second Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90038


Mr. Jon Feltheimer
Chief Executive Officer
Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc.
2700 Colorado Avenue, Suite 200
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Open Road

Mr. Tom Ortenberg
Chief Executive Officer
Open Road Films, Inc.
12301 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025


Mr. Robert Simonds
Chairman and CEO
STX Productions, LLC
3900 West Alameda Avenue, 32nd Floor
Burbank, CA 91505



Mr. Adam M. Aron CEO and President
AMC Entertainment Inc.
One AMC Way
11500 Ash Street Leawood, KS 66211


Mr. Mark Zoradi
Chief Executive Officer
Cinemark USA, Inc.
3900 Dallas Parkway, Suite 500
Plano, TX 75093


Mr. Gregory S. Marcus
CEO and President
The Marcus Corporation
100 East Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 1900
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Reading International

Ms. Ellen Marie Cotter
Chairperson, CEO and President
Reading International, Inc.
5995 Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 300
Culver City, CA 90230


Ms. Amy E. Miles
Chairperson and CEO
Regal Entertainment Group
7132 Regal Lane
Knoxville, TN 37918


(Trade group, also has a formal role in administering film ratings)
Mr. John Fithian President and CEO
National Association of Theatre Owners Inc.
750 1st Street NE, Suite 1130
Washington, DC 20002



(This is Google’s parent company)
Mr. Lawrence Edward Page, CEO
Mr. Sergey Brin, President
Alphabet Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043


Mr. Jeffrey P. Bezos
Chairman, CEO and President, Inc.
410 Terry Avenue
North Seattle, WA 98109 206-266-1000


Mr. Timothy D. Cook
CEO and Director Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop Cupertino, CA 95014


Mr. Randall L. Stephenson
Chairman, CEO and President
AT&T Inc. 208 South Akard Street
Dallas, TX 75202

Best Buy

Mr. Hubert Joly
Chairman and CEO Best Buy Co., Inc.
7601 Penn Avenue South
Richfield, MN 55423


Mr. Reed Hastings
Chairman, CEO and President
Netflix, Inc. 100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos, CA 95032


Mr. Galen C. Smith
CEO and President
Redbox Automated Retail, LLC
One Tower Lane, Suite 900
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181


Mr. Brian C. Cornell
Chairman and CEO
Target Corporation
1000 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


Mr. Lowell C. McAdam
Chairman and CEO
Verizon Communications, Inc.
1095 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036


Mr. C. Douglas McMillon
CEO and President
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716

To view the major media companies’ track records on tobacco, go to: (Data from Breathe California Onscreen Tobacco Database and UCSF, hosted by UCSF Smokefree Movies.)