Two prominent tobacco researchers have argued against adopting adult movie ratings in the U.S. for films that include on-screen cigarette smoking. The policy—being proposed by more than 20 public health agencies and the World Health Organization—would allow leading movie characters to accurately portray people who smoke cigarettes, but would assign adult ratings to movies in which nameless, faceless background characters smoke, unless they are scripted to speak against smoking.
What’s the Big Idea?
“No one would consider me a fan of the tobacco industry, but even I think the proposal circulating among public health officials to rate movies based on the presence of background cigarette smokers would likely do nothing to reduce youth smoking,” said Matthew Farrelly, Ph.D. University professor Simon Chapman said it was bad policy to regulate creative or cultural products like movies, books, art and theater. “Many movies depict social problems and people behaving badly, and smoking in movies mirrors the prevalence of smoking in populations.”