Local Youth Will Demonstrate In Toronto on April 1

Local Youth Will Demonstrate In Toronto on April 1


The number one rule on April Fools’ Day is: Don’t trust anything you see or hear. That will be impossible for citizens and visitors around movie theatres in downtown Toronto to do, however.

That’s because youth advocates from Reality Check Monroe County will demonstrate loudly with proven facts about smoking in movies outside Scotiabank Theatres, TIFF Lightbox Theatre and Ripley’s Aquarium. They will join approximately 100 fellow Reality Check members from across New York State, as well as 200 youth from the Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI) in Ontario, Canada.


Their demonstration, designed to push the film industry to rate youth-rated movies that show smoking R, will include student-run man on the street interviews designed to gather public opinion and spread awareness on the issue. Advocates will carry “Don’t Be A Fool, Smoking in Movies Is Not Cool” posters with statistics, as well as cardboard heads of smoking movie stars from movies that feature smoking. Throughout the demonstration, members of the group will share interview clips on social media as well as roam the streets near Metro Hall, getting passers-by to sign a petition intended for the movie industry.

According to a 2014 report from the Surgeon General, giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5 (18%) and prevent 1 million deaths from smoking among teens and children alive today.

That is no prank.

“Smoking on screen kills in real life”, Joseph Potter, Reality Check Youth Coordinator of Monroe County, stresses the importance of educating the public on the effect tobacco use in movies has on kids. “The more kids see tobacco use on screen, the more it’s normalized, especially when the negative health affects aren’t shown.”

Our goal is to remove smoking in movies or have the movie receive an R rating.

Max Serling, a student at Pittsford Mendon High School, stated “I knew there was smoking in kids’ movies, but I never realized how much until I joined Reality Check. I now see how they target kids.”

“It makes it seem like smoking is the norm, that smoking is OK,” he said, “and that’s why I think it’s such a big problem.”

This cross-border crusade is the second annual smoke-free movies demonstration for the Reality Check and YATI groups. This year, the student advocates decided to video street interviews and share on their social channels to gain more support for Smoke Free Movies (SFM). They’ll also create an event video that they can share at their schools and in their communities. They want to show Big Tobacco and Hollywood that they are nobody’s fool.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program which seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York State.

YATI, a program of the Ontario Lung Association equips youth and young adults with the skills necessary to prevent and reduce tobacco use, promote health and advocate for positive change in their communities.

For more information about the harmful effects of smoking in movies, visit smokefreemonroe.com.

Smoking and Health Action Coalition of Monroe County (SHAC) is funded by the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norms through youth action and community engagement. Efforts are evidence-based, policy-driven, and cost-effective approaches that decrease youth tobacco use, motivate adult smokers to quit, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. SHAC is part of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.