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Sustainable Development and Environmental Health 

Tobacco Free Film, Tobacco Free Fashion


World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2003

Call to Action!


This year, the theme for World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2003, is Tobacco Free Film and Tobacco Free Fashion.

For years, tobacco companies have counted on the film and fashion industries to help them promote cigarettes. How? By having models smoke cigarettes on runway shoots. By filling fashion magazine pages with cigarette ads. By having actors and actresses smoke in movies. And by having film directors show cigarette packages and ads in background shots.

Even if tobacco companies aren't paying for this publicity - and they often are - the results are the same: A perpetuation of the myth that smoking is glamorous, and increased tobacco use particularly by youth.

Why does smoking in fashion and film matter?

  • Cigarette promotion is associated with smoking initiation by youth and with overall increases in tobacco use.
  • Adolescents whose favorite movie stars smoke are more likely to smoke.
  • The fashion and film industries promote unrealistic images of tobacco use.
  • These images normalize smoking, contributing to a sense "friendly familiarity" about cigarettes.
  • Magazines that accept tobacco advertising tend to devote less space to information about the health effects of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Cigarette promotion undermines health messages about the harm of smoking.


This World No Tobacco Day, send a message to the film and fashion industries: No more pushing cigarettes, please.

PAHO calls on students, parents, community groups, youth groups, and health professionals to:

  1. Launch a letter-writing campaign to your favorite actors, actresses, film directors and models. Ask them to:
    • Refuse to take funding from tobacco companies
    • Refuse to use cigarettes and cigarette packages as props in fashion shoots and films
    • Speak out publicly about the problem of tobacco promotion in film and fashion
  2. Write to the editors and publishers of leading fashion magazines in your country to ask them to stop accepting tobacco advertising. Here are some fashion magazines that publish internationally:
    • Condé Nast (publisher of Vogue, Glamour, Self, GQ, and Allure)
    • Cosmopolitan
    • Elle
    • W and Vogue
  3. Research tobacco use in fashion and film. Watch the best-selling films in your country and count how many times and for how many minutes cigarette promotion appears - for example, through depictions of an actor smoking, or background shots of a cigarette ads or packages. Examine the most popular fashion magazines in your country and count how many pages carry tobacco advertising. Investigate whether those magazines that carry tobacco ads have less editorial content about the health hazards of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  4. Congratulate film and fashion personalities who have spoken up against the promotion of cigarettes in their industries. Let PAHO know about them, and we will make sure they are recognized for their efforts through World No Tobacco Day awards (certificates and trophies).
  5. Let PAHO know what you're doing. Send PAHO a copy of your letters and any responses, and send us the results of your research into tobacco promotion in film and fashion by May 9, 2003. We will give World No Tobacco Day awards (certificates and trophies) to the schools and communities that generate the most letters, and that produce the best research.

Pan American Health Organization
Risk Assessment and Management Unit(SDE/RA)
"World No Tobacco Day 2003"
525 23rd St. NW
Washington DC 20037
United States
Fax 202 974 3631

For more background information on tobacco promotion in film and fashion, check out these links:

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

© Pan American Health Organization. All rights reserved.