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Rate Smoking Movies 'R'Certify No Pay-Offs Require Anti-Tobacco Ads Stop Identifying Brands  

June 2009 World Health Organization issues new film policy guide

Concerned about on-screen tobacco promotion, WHO says films with smoking should trigger adult ratings and strong anti-tobacco spots in theaters, on DVD, cable, satellite and other channels. WHO also advises barring all tobacco brand display and requiring producers to certify that their smoking films are free of tobacco payoffs. (Download report)

March 25 , 2008
New York State Commissioner of Health presses largest U.S. media companies to adopt Smoke Free Movie's four policies

New York State Department of Health’s full-page ads in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal (ad #1, ad #2) outline the problem and four policy solutions, then urge public to clip and mail messages to the studios’ parent companies. Keep up the pressure!

The U.S. film industry can take four simple steps to substantially reduce the impact of adolescent exposure to smoking on screen. None of these steps requires government action. None restricts creative choices. All are voluntary and transparent. All are based on the published research. Together, they will avert tobacco addiction, disease and death on a massive scale.

1. Rate new smoking movies "R." Any film that shows or implies tobacco should be rated "R." The only exceptions should be when the presentation of tobacco clearly and unambiguously reflects the dangers and consequences of tobacco use or is necessary to represent the smoking of a real historical figure.

Where we are now: In 2007, the MPAA announced that it would "consider" smoking in film ratings, but has yet to elevate the rating of any film for smoking. Youth-rated films continue to deliver billions of tobacco impressions.

2. Certify no pay-offs. The producers should post a certificate in the closing credits declaring that nobody on the production received anything of value (cash money, free cigarettes or other gifts, free publicity, interest-free loans or anything else) from anyone in exchange for using or displaying tobacco.

Where we are now: In 2008, Time Warner began including the following language in the end credits of selected films: “No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of tobacco products.”

3. Require strong anti-smoking ads. Studios and theaters should run a proven-effective anti-smoking ad (not produced by a tobacco company) to run before any film with any tobacco presence, in any distribution channel, regardless of its MPAA rating.

Where we are now: The Weinstein Company and the six major studios now include effective anti-smoking spots from the American Legacy Foundation or State of California on DVDs, but not yet in theaters. The Disney Company and Time Warner include the spots on their R-rated as well as youth-rated DVDs.

4. Stop identifying tobacco brands. There should be no tobacco brand identification in films nor the presence of tobacco brand imagery (such as billboards) in the background of any movie scene.

Where we are now: There has been no decline in tobacco brand display since 1990.

A growing majority supports smokefree movie policies

In the most recent national poll on smoking and movies, the Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control (2006) found:

• 80 percent of U.S. adults agreed that smoking in movies influences teens to smoke.

• 70 percent of adults called for R-ratings in movies that show smoking, unless the film clearly demonstrates the dangers of smoking or it is necessary to represent smoking of a real historical figure.

• Public support for the R-rating increased by more than 10% from previous years.

• Two-thirds of adults agreed that movies should be required to show an anti-smoking advertisement before any film that includes smoking.

• More than 60 percent wanted tobacco branding out of all movie scenes.

• Support for Smoke Free Movie policies has increased over the previous years, especially among smokers.

The four Smoke Free Movies policies are endorsed by:

World Health Organization
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Heart Association
American Legacy Foundation
American Lung Association
American Medical Association
American Medical Association Alliance
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights
American Public Health Association

Breathe California
British Columbia Healthy Living Alliance
California School Nurses Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention
Los Angeles Department of Health Services
National Network on Tobacco Prevention and Poverty
New York State Department of Health
New York State PTA
Oklahoma State PTA

Ontario Lung Association
Society for Adolescent Medicine

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US Public Interest Research Group, and others.

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