Native Youth Advocate for Regulations on Smoking in the Movies

By TEEN ADVISORY GROUP, United Indian Health Services

United Indian Health Services’ Teen Advisory Group, better known as TAG has been advocating for the American Indian Film Institute to promote a socially and culturally responsible depiction of smoking and of tobacco products in the films that they accept for their annual film festival.

TAG began their education efforts by creating story boards about the danger of secondhand smoking, traditional tobacco use and commercial tobacco. These story boards then became three PSA’s and a short film about smoking in the movies. TAG members have presented their work to Humboldt State University, Communities in Motion, United Indian Health Services/ Program Planning Evaluation Committee, NCIDC Wellness Committee, the Tobacco Education Network and California Rural Indian Health Board. The following have signed a resolution to support TAG’s efforts to raise awareness about the negative impact smoking in movies has on children and youth; United Indian Health Services, Inc.;Northern California Indian Development Council, Inc.’s Wellness Committee; Humboldt County – Tobacco Education Network; California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc.; Resighini  Rancheria; and Smith River Rancheria.

Six TAG members traveled with three UIHS staff members to the American Indian Film Festival in San Franscico in Novermber 2012. They attended the youth screening and the awards program. This was a great trip and TAG members were able to view a variety of other movies created by different tribal organizations.

United Indian Health Services’ NATIVE Tobacco Project is asking the American Indian Film Institute to adopt one of the following policies to promote a socially responsible depictation of tobacco use in films:

Not show movies that have tobacco products used/ or displayed in them that exploit American Indian images and/or culture,

Not show films that show youth ages 17 and under using commercial tobacco products, and/or

Show an anti-tobacco ad before movies that show commercial tobacco use.

Why is TAG concerned about this? According to the Surgeon General:

Youth who are exposed to images of smoking in movies are more likely to smoke. Those who get the most exposure to onscreen smoking are about twice as likely to begin smoking as those who get the least exposure. Images of smoking in movies have declined over the past decade; however, in 2010 nearly a third of top-grossing movies produced for children — those with ratings of G, PG, or PG-13 — contained images of smoking.

Additionally, tobacco smoking is a serious problem within the American Indian community.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) while the smoking rate in the general population of California is 14%, the smoking rate for California Indians is 33.5%, more than double that of other California residents.  Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among American Indians. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among American Indians.

Tobacco use is a major risk factor for the top two causes of death among American Indians, cardiovascular disease and for lung cancer. (National Network for Tobacco Control and Prevention)

United Indian Health Services’ Teen Advisory Group is hoping to be granted a time when they can present this information to the American Indian Film Institute in the near future. They feel this is a very important topic and would of tremendous benefit to American Indian youth.

For more information about this TAG activity, please contact Liz Lara-O’Rourke, NATIVE Tobacco Project, United Indian Health Services at (707) 825-4059.

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July 12th, 2013

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