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Anti-Smoking PSA Contest Promotes ‘Reel Change’

Entries denouncing the use of tobacco in films will be accepted through March 5

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program has launched a video PSA contest to encourage local teens and young adults to take action against the harmful effects of tobacco use in Hollywood films.

The contest, called “Reel Change,” is accepting entries of 30-second anti-smoking public service announcements from residents ages 14 through 25. The winning contestants will have their PSAs shown in movies theaters this spring, in addition to receiving a prize package.

The issue is a timely one; studies show strong evidence that viewing smoking in movies promotes teen smoking, and it is estimated that one in three new smokers starts because of exposure to on-screen smoking. The tobacco industry has been heavily involved in the movie industry since the 1940s, and movies have delivered more than 44.5 billion impressions of tobacco use to U.S. audiences since 1999. Today, 75 percent of PG-13 movies and 36 percent of G and PG movies have tobacco use.

“More than 1,000 teens will start smoking today because of what they saw on movie screens; 340 of them will die early due to a smoking-related disease,” said Smoke Free Movies project director Stanton Glantz, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Research also shows that the placement of a hard-hitting PSA before a movie “immunizes” youth from the negative effects of stars smoking on screen. “This PSA contest empowers local youth to take action and be part of the solution,” said Dawn Dunn, administrator of the Santa Barbara County Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program.

Entries will be accepted through March 5 at the Reel Change Web site.

— Scott McCann is the director of health education for the Santa Barbara County Health Department.

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