Anti-smoking Org Knocks Disney, Uni, WB

By Robert Marich
   Sept 28, 2012-An anti-smoking group complains that depictions of smoking cigarettes are on the rise in movies, which it blasts as “the U.S. movie industry’s failure to protect young audiences.”
  Says a press release from Legacy, “Reversing a five-year decline in movie smoking, from 2005 to 2010, four out of the six major Hollywood studios featured more smoking in their youth-rated (G, PG and PG-13) movies in 2011. Overall, tobacco incidents per youth-rated film climbed by more than one-third above 2010; in 2011, youth-rated movies delivered almost twice as many tobacco impressions to domestic theater audiences as in 2010, topping 10 billion.”
   Legacy, which is devoted to reducing the allure of smoking, cited the Disney, Universal (Comcast/General Electric) and Warner Bros. (Time Warner Inc.) studios as having the most screen smoking. Legacy was created as a non-profit funded by the tobacco industry in a 1998 settlement with the government.
   The Legacy study looks at all movies that made the top 10-grossing movie list. “Overall, the number of tobacco incidents per movie increased 7% (from 13.1 to 14.0),” says a spokesperson
      Legacy does exclude counting smoking depictions where they are portrayed with negative consequences or in some instances for historical accuracy. A Legacy spokesperson explains, “The R-rating policy will make an exception for depictions of actual people who actually smoked (as in a biographical drama or documentary) or portrayals of the actual health consequences of tobacco use. UCSF has not yet analyzed the data to test if smoking is becoming more or less concentrated in biographical films, of which there are relatively few. Depictions of the dire health consequences have always been extremely rare.”
   In 2007, the film ratings board added smoking to the list of depictions that trigger higher ratings, but it’s not automatic but rather a “consideration” in a rating. Some anti-smoking groups want films with any smoking rated R (restricted to ages 17), reasoning younger audiences cannot legally buy smoking products. Hollywood responds that’s too draconian and infringes on freedom of expression.

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