Madonna video undoing of New York’s anti-tobacco education?

by Jenny Novac on March 27, 2012

The Pro-Kids (PRotect our kids from Inhaling Deadly Smoke)Act of 1994 banned the use of all tobacco products in school buildings, on school grounds, and on all school owned vehicles; New York State Department of Education standards requires k – 12 students are taught the harmful effects of tobacco use; The state Department of Health has spent over 648 million dollars since the year 2000 to prevent and reduce tobacco use. Yet, Madonna’s new music video, Girl Gone Wild, most likely will strike New York’s students as just a little sexier than their high school Health Education teacher displaying photos of blackened lungs at the front of the classroom.

Smoking Madonna

Madonna smoking in new music video Girl Gone Wild

The video, uploaded to YouTube on the official Madonna channel March 21 was a preview of her new album M.D.M.A. that was released today.

In the overtly erotic video, a leather-clad Madonna deeply inhales from a cigarette and slowly releases a cloud of smoke. The image of smoke flowing from her mouth is repeated several times in the four minute video.

The video was flagged by YouTube as containing content that may be inappropriate for children and requires viewers to confirm they are of majority age although there is nothing preventing children from clicking through to the video.

The 1980s icon, who has been gaining a new generation of fans as the performer for the Super Bowl half-time show this January, responded to the video Saturday night, March 24, in a live Facebook video chat with Late Night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, saying,  “I’m supposed to be a girl gone wild in the video!”  Artistic license and freedom of speech rights makes videos such as Madonna’s inevitable.

New York State has been aggressively fighting tobacco use in the state over the past decade. Efforts have included expanding bans on public smoking, increasing the tax on cigarettes, and handing out free nicotine gum and patches for New Yorkers seeking to quit. The efforts appear to be successful; the Department of Health reports that tobacco use among high school students has dropped from 27.1 percent of students in 2000 to 12.6 percent in 2010.

A report by the United States Surgeon General released earlier this month concluded:

The evidence is sufficient to conclude that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people – Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, March 8, 2012

To combat media images that promote smoking as sexy, New York Health educators will have to get sexy themselves, or at least point out how bad Madonna’s breathe must have been after the filming of Girl Gone Wild.

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