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The number of smoking scenes in youth-rated movies doubled between 2010 and 2012, HealthDay reports. Smoking scenes have returned to the level of a decade ago, according to a study funded by the anti-smoking group Legacy.

The study calculated the number of “tobacco impressions,” depictions of tobacco use, multiplied by the number of tickets sold per film. The researchers found half of youth-related movies in 2012 delivered an estimated 14.8 billion tobacco impressions. This represents a 169 percent increase from 2010.

“Movies may be more powerful than traditional tobacco ads,” Legacy President and CEO Cheryl Healton said in a news release. “We know that the more smoking that youth see in movies, the more likely they are to smoke. This explosion in on-screen smoking puts hundreds of thousands of young Americans at risk of addiction, disease and premature death.”

In 2010, three major film studios had eliminated almost all smoking in their films with youth ratings (those with ratings of G, PG or PG-13). By 2012, one of those studios, Warner Bros., had the most smoking scenes in their youth-rated movies, the article notes. Paramount, Disney and Universal had less smoking in their youth-rated movies in 2012, compared with the previous year.

Films with high levels of smoking last year included The Hobbit, Lincoln, Taken 2, Skyfall and Men in Black 3.

“Increases in smoking imagery in the movies are discouraging,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Every day in the United States approximately 3,800 youth under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 1,000 become daily cigarette smokers. Reducing smoking and tobacco use in youth-oriented movies will help save lives, money, and years of suffering from completely preventable smoking-related chronic diseases.”

According to Legacy, research suggests seeing smoking in movies is a factor in 37 percent of new young smokers taking up the habit.

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