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Mekemson, et al.  present a thorough study of the presentation of smoking in the top 50
grossing movies each year from mid-1991 to mid-2001 that concludes that the levels of smoking
was either constant or decreased slightly. (The small, but significant, drop with time they report
may be the result of the fact that the smoking was much higher than average at their first data
point, 1991-92, making it a leverage point).
Their results are comparable to data collected during the same period by Glantz, et al.  as part
of a study that spanned a much longer time, 1950-2002, based on a smaller random sample of the
top 20 grossing films each year (Table). The longer-term data also show that the levels of
smoking in the movies in the 1990s was about twice the levels observed in the 1980s (p=.037 by
1. Mekemson C, Glik D, Titus K, Myerson A, Shaivitz A, Ang A, Mitchell S. Tobacco Use
in Popular Movies During the Past Decade. Tob Control 2004;13(4):400-402.
2. Glantz SA, Kacirk KW, McCulloch C. Back to the Future: Smoking in Movies in 2002
Compared with 1950 Levels. Am J Public Health 2004;94(2):261-3.
November 27, 2004