MPAA Announces it will Begin Taking Depictions of Smoking into Consideration when Rating Films

Common Sense Media CEO Says MPAA's Recognition of Impact of Smoking on Kids is a 'Big Step Forward'
Common Sense Media
Thursday, May 10, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Motion Picture Association of America announced on Thursday that it would begin to take depictions of smoking into consideration when rating films, along with the content it already considers: violence, language and sex.

“We're pleased that the MPAA has finally recognized that smoking in the movies is a huge health issue for kids," said Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer. "The research is conclusive: kids find smoking more attractive when the stars they admire light up on screen. In fact, smoking in the movies is one of the most effective ways to get kids to pick up the habit. This is a big step forward for the MPAA to connect the dots between onscreen behavior and the impact on kids’ health.”

This month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics features a study that found the average American kid aged 10-14 was exposed to 665 instances of smoking in the movies a year. Previous research from the Dartmouth Medical School has estimated that nearly 40 percent of kids who start smoking do so because of the amount of smoking they saw in the movies. This fact had led some members of the medical community to call for a mandatory R rating for films that contain any smoking, a call that the MPAA has rejected.

In his statement on the new policy, MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said he believed the new ratings criteria would further the MPAA’s goal of providing parents with more information about the film.

Steyer said that while he agreed with the MPAA that parents needed more information about the content of films, he hoped that the MPAA would continue to help educate the public about the impact of smoking in the movies on kids.

“It’s important for the public to know that what kids see on the screen impacts their physical, emotional and social health,” Steyer said. “Movies can be a great way to bond as a family – that’s why it’s important for parents to have detailed, trustworthy information about the content of films so that they make the right movie choices for their kids and their families.”