To honor #BlackHistoryMonth, students gather on Instagram Live to discuss the film “42” as well as tobacco use in movies and community health disparities.
A virtual movie event on “42,” The Jackie Robinson Story, spurred a lively Instagram Live discussion on multiple tobacco issues affecting our community and nation.
On Feb. 25, Reality Check youth from Genesee County joined 100+ youth and community members from across New York State to honor #BlackHistoryMonth, as well as discuss the baseball movie and how it hits a home run on tobacco-related topics including: Tobacco use in movies; Big Tobacco’s targeted advertising; health disparities: and smokeless tobacco use.
The youth had a three-day window, from Feb. 23-25, to watch the movie independently, or as part of a group watch party, to prepare for the live discussion. The goal was to share what they learned with peers and members of the community to help reduce tobacco product use in their regions and beyond.
Tobacco Use in Movies
“42” includes several smoking scenes, particularly cigar smoking. This gave Reality Check leaders guiding the discussion the opportunity to educate youth on important facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were also shared via social media channels the week preceding the event.
- Smoking in movies recruits 187,000 new teen smokers every year; and
- PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes youth see on the big screen.
“The more kids see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to smoke,” said Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check coordinator at Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW).
“There’s no excuse for having smoking in movies that are rated to be sold to kids; we suggest giving an R rating to movies that include tobacco use.”
According to Bozzer, giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5, preventing up to 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today.
Black History Month
Since “42” tells the story of the American legend Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player, the movie event and discussion included the issue of racial health disparities in our communities.
For more than 60 years, the tobacco industry has been a part of the problem by deliberately targeting the Black community with menthol cigarettes, which are more addictive, easier for kids to start using and harder for smokers to quit than other cigarettes.
To target Black demographics, the tobacco company Chesterfield used Jackie Robinson in cigarette ads in the 1950s. Athletes were desirable endorsers for cigarettes because they were perceived as healthier than the average citizen.
Teens also discussed how the tobacco industry profited while destroying Black lives and health. In the 1950s, less than 10 percent of Black smokers used menthol cigarettes. Today, 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death among Black Americans. It claims 45,000 Black lives each year, and Black Americans die at higher rates than other groups from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Baseball and Chewing Tobacco
A final discussion topic of “42” and the Instagram Live event was Through With Chew week, a national, weeklong event meant to educate people about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, also known as chew, which has been used by professional athletes for decades.
The week of awareness included the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 25 this year, the day tobacco users across America aim to quit.
ABOUT REALITY CHECK
It is a youth led movement in New York State that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members create change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.
Reality Check groups work in their communities by trying to limit the exposure of tobacco marketing in stores, help make smoke/vape-free public, work, and housing spaces, and limiting the exposure to smoking/vaping in movies.
These initiatives are to help discourage young people from becoming new daily smokers and encourage current smokers to quit. Reality Check GOW is a program of Tobacco-Free GOW and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
More information can be found at http://www.realitycheckofny.com and http://www.tobaccofreenys.com