Of the six big movie studios, Time Warner (Warner Bros.), Comcast (Universal Studios), and Disney have adopted policies designed to limit onscreen smoking. Viacom (Paramount), News Corp. (20th Century Fox), and Sony have not.
Fewer children would be exposed to smoking on the silver screen if the movie rating association set industrywide standards, the report says. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) could do this by automatically assigning an R rating to any film with tobacco use, it suggests.
The MPAA, which assigns ratings to movies, has rejected calls for an automatic-R system. Such a policy is unnecessary because nearly three-fourths of films with smoking are already rated R, says a spokeswoman for the group. Moreover, the MPAA since 2007 has factored onscreen smoking into its ratings decisions.
Fewer than half of all top-grossing movies released between 2007 and 2010 that featured smoking were rated R, according to a count by Dr. Glanz, who directs the Smoke Free Movies Project. He also questions whether the MPAA has ever bumped a movie up to an R rating on account of smoking.
The MPAA spokeswoman counters that “the purpose of the [rating] system is not to prevent filmmakers from putting content in their films,” but rather to “to provide information to parents about the level of content in each film.”