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Hi, my name is Michael Yi and I am currently a sophomore at Dos Pueblos High School. I am a member of a youth organization called the Coalition of Youth Advocates which works to increase public awareness about the health risks of tobacco and encourage prevention. We saw Avatar and wanted to bring up the issue of smoking in movies. As I am sure many people would agree, I think Avatar is one of the best movies of all time. However, I believe that it can have harmful influences on children because of the smoking in the movie. According to a study by the National Cancer Institute, A teen is three times more likely to start smoking, if he or she has increased exposure to smoking on screen. Also, it is an established fact that smoking causes serious health problems which claim millions of lives every year. Smoking in Avatar will have greater effects on teens and children worldwide because the person who smokes in the movie is one of the “good guys” who becomes a hero by saving the natives. Young children will revere them because they saved the day and think that whatever they do must be right. The smoking in the movie was unnecessary and the movie would be greater without it.

I believe that our community can work together to address this issue. One of the solutions to this growing problem is to ban smoking in PG-13, PG, and G rated movies. The younger audience will not be exposed to smoking in movies and movie directors will be discouraged to produce movies that contain smoking. Another solution to this problem is to show anti-tobacco ads before all movies. According to the Santa Barbara Public Health Department, Public support for these solutions exists with 70% of US adults favoring the R-rating and 67% favor showing anti-tobacco spots before movies with smoking which is an overwhelming majority. In addition, endorsements for these solutions have been received from 35+ national/international agencies. The support is there, but we all need to work together to bring change to this community, and hopefully, the whole country.—Michael Yi

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