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Top-grossing movies are increasingly likely to depict smoking, sparking teen health concerns

America's top grossing movies saw an 80 percent increase in on-screen tobacco use from 2015 to 2016, sparking concerns that a surge in underage smoking could follow. "We've known for a while that the more you see smoking on screen, the more likely you are to see youth smoking cigarettes in real life," CDC analyst and the author of the report, Michael Tynan, told CNN. "There's a causal relationship between the two."

While movies have been blamed for everything from increasing violence to disappointing undershirt sales, others have cautioned against reading too much into the new report. "I don't want to downplay what they're saying," said Dan Romer, the director of the Adolescent Communication Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. "I think it's important to point out there's still a lot of smoking in movies. But it's hard to know from their study if it's the kind of movies that have a high viewership in adolescents."

In 2016, 26 percent of the top movies rated G, PG, and PG-13 showed tobacco use. For R-rated movies, that number was higher, 67 percent. And while tobacco use was featured in 41 percent of the total top-grossing movies in 2016, down from 50 percent in 2015, on-screen usage was actually up 80 percent, with 1,743 recorded instances in 2015 compared with 3,145 in 2016.

Smoking, both on screen and off, is down across America, though. In 2015, 15 percent of adults said they smoked cigarettes and 20 percent of high school students in 2016 said they used some kind of tobacco product.