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2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking

(April 15, 2001)

Despite health-care concerns, smoking bans in public places and a government order that restricts advertising, cigarettes are as prevalent as ever in Hollywood. Not only do movies show characters lighting up much more frequently than their real-life counterparts, but in the past decade films have increasingly depicted tobacco use as natural, especially among young people.

John F. Banzhaf III, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Action on Smoking and Health, notes that from the 1940s until the mid-1960s, motion pictures routinely depicted smoking by characters that reflected an accurate portrayal of society at the time because nearly half of adult males smoked. And they smoked anywhere they wanted: at work, on airplanes, in restaurants. But since 1964, when 42 percent of Americans smoked before a Surgeon General’s report linked smoking and cancer, rates have steadily fallen.

Now, according to the American Heart Association, 28 percent of men and 22 percent of women are smokers. There has been no corresponding decline in the movies. According to a study by Dartmouth Medical School released in January, 85 percent of the top 250 moneymaking films during a 10-year span ending in 1987 had some tobacco use, including several such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Dick Tracy aimed at young teens.

Smoking in movies didn’t decline during the period even after tobacco companies vowed to quit paying filmmakers to feature their brands. Of the 250 movies Dartmouth examined, 217 featured tobacco use, with 180 of those showing an actual brand.

In another recent study by the American Journal of Public Health, the main character smoked in 57 percent of the films.

While movie smoking once was largely restricted to gangsters, gamblers and alcoholics, films in the past 10 years have shown an increasing number of healthy young characters puffing away for no reason relative to the plot.

"Today a lot of movies show people smoking in offices and parties," says Banzhaf, who founded ASH – the nation’s oldest and largest anti-smoking organization – in 1967. "But that just doesn’t happen in real life. People have to go outside. Smoking in society is not seen as desirable."

After a congressional investigation prompted by complaints from ASH, tobacco companies in 1989 voluntarily agreed to discontinue paying for placement of their products in movies. ASH had uncovered multiple instances of the practice, including Philip Morris shelling out $350,000 to make sure its cigarettes were featured in the 1989 James Bond flick License To Kill.

Under terms of the 1998 national tobacco settlement, companies also are precluded from donating goods and services (such as new cars or jewelry) to screenwriters, producers, directors and actors in exchange for placement of cigarettes in motion pictures. ASH successfully argued that the practice constitutes a form of advertising and thus requires an accompanying congressionally mandated health warning.

Nevertheless, the practice continues. Government restrictions say nothing about preventing other crew members benefiting from making sure cigarettes make it into a scene.

"There’s been no change in the amount of product placement in the movies," says Bridget Ahrens, project manager of the Dartmouth study. "The depiction is much more blatant."

The national tobacco settlement restricted cigarette advertising on billboards, clothing and cartoon characters. Sneaking a puff in celluloid is one of the few media outlets remaining.

"Now we have stars holding a pack, which is much more effective than in the past when a pack was on a bar counter in the background," Ahrens says.

ASH has convinced the U.S. Department of Justice to begin an informal investigation into concealed motives of cigarette use in movies.

Ahrens says manufacturers strive to get studios to include their products as props because it increases sales.

"Anything that is in a scene is there for a reason," Ahrens says.

Banzhaf also believes a recent rise in teen smoking correlates to stars smoking on screen.

"These are actually hidden commercials, with the subliminal message that smoking is cool," he says. "What goes on in movies dramatically impacts behavior and kids’ perception of reality."

More than 3,000 persons under age 17 begin smoking every day, according to the American Heart Association.

– John W. Kennedy

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