American consumers of adult-aimed popular culture are exposed to far more smoking — if a lot less smoke — than the used to be. A study our this past summer from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection showed that between 2010 and 2016, the top-grossing films with R ratings saw depictions of smoking leapt to 90%. In PG-13 films, the incidences of smoking were up to 43%. During the same period, smoking depictions dropped drastically, to 4% from 30%, in popular films rated G or PG — a decrease of 87%.
In 2012, the US Surgeon General’s office presented a direct link between depictions of smoking in popular films and young people starting to smoke, finding evidence that heavy exposure to smoking depictions in film more than doubled the rate of youths taking up the smoking habit.