The social acceptability of tobacco use has declined along with smoking rates over the years. Entertainment media, however, remains one of the places where smoking is still portrayed positively—as something glamorous, rebellious and edgy. That’s why Truth Initiative® and Trinity Health are launching a grant program focused on eliminating smoking—still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.—from youth-rated movies.

Truth Initiative and Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the country, will award approximately 10 “Reinvent the Reel” grants of up to $2,500 each. The grants will support youth-serving groups that will educate and engage young people, raise awareness about the issue of smoking in movies and popular culture and advocate for entertainment media companies to implement an R rating for movies with smoking, which research has shown would lead to an 18 percent decline in teen smoking.

“Reinvent the Reel” comes on the heels of a challenge from public health groups to entertainment studios to apply an R rating to movies with smoking by June 1, 2018. Only films that portray real people who used tobacco, such as in documentaries or biographical dramas, or that depict the negative health effects of tobacco use, should be exempt.

While movie studios have made some strides in decreasing tobacco depictions over the years, smoking is still present in many youth-rated movies (G, PG and PG-13). More than one-third of PG-13 movies continue to include tobacco imagery, and the decline in the number of movies with smoking has plateaued. In fact, the average number of tobacco incidents per movie climbed to historically high levels in 2014 and were nearly as high in 2016. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies can cause young people to start smoking, and youth who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking imagery are approximately two to three times as likely to begin smoking, compared to youth who are lightly exposed.

Nonprofits and government entities, including health departments, high schools and colleges, that work with young people from 15 to 24 years old are eligible to apply for “Reinvent the Reel” grants. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2017.

Here’s how to apply:

For more information, please contact [email protected] or 202-454-5555.

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