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Rated R for graphic smoking

Posted by Richard on May 11, 2007

The Motion Picture Association of America is going to consider smoking (by adults) as a factor, along with sex, violence, and language, in determining whether a film gets a restricted rating. Critics are complaining that the MPAA isn't going far enough. They want any image of tobacco use to automatically get an R rating, so that no child under 17 can see on the screen what they can see just outside the door on their way out of the theater:

"I'm glad it's finally an issue they're taking up, but what they're proposing does not go far enough and is not going to make a difference," said Kori Titus, spokeswoman for Breathe California, which opposes film images of tobacco use that might encourage young people to start smoking.

Titus said film raters should be as tough on smoking as they are on bad language to minimize the effects of on-screen smoking on children, including her own 5-year-old daughter.

"I don't want her using that language, but last time I checked, she's probably not going to die from that," Titus said. "If she starts smoking from these images she sees in movies, chances are she's probably going to die early from that."

Apparently in anticipation of such criticism, the MPAA had already lined up defenders to argue that their level of nannyism is sufficient:

While Titus' group wants tougher ratings restrictions, the MPAA released statements of support for its plan from John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and filmmaker Rob Reiner, among others.

"By placing smoking on a par with considerations of violence and sex, the rating board has acknowledged the public-health dangers to children associated with glamorized images of a toxic and lethal addiction to tobacco," Barry Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement.

So, the public debate is whether images of people lighting cigarettes are worse than or merely as bad as images of rape or disembowelment.

How long do you suppose it will be before some group of nanny-state nazis calls for restricted ratings on films that depict the consumption of doughnuts or french fries? 

UPDATE: A caller to Rush had a brilliant idea. He pointed out that the MPAA's statements and actions amount to an acknowledgement of culpability by the film industry. How many millions of us watched Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and others smoking on the silver screen in film after film, and thought they looked oh-so-cool, and decided to emulate them? Could we perhaps get John Edwards or one of his law partners to file a class action suit on our behalf? Or do Edwards and his pals only go after industries that aren't dominated by leftist Democrats?

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One Response to “Rated R for graphic smoking”

  1. redheadgirl said

    Personally, I’m looking for a 0 Trans Fat flick myself…. Good post. Interesting topic. Being a reformed smoker, I wish Hollywood would stop glamorizing the shit, but to go this far is ridiculous.

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