17 US health groups demand the R-rating by June 2018

On Friday 25 August 2017, seventeen leading U.S. health organizations demanded that the six US media companies whose major studios govern the film rating system implement the R-rating for tobacco imagery by 1 June 2018. Excerpts:

If the [film] industry had simply continued reducing tobacco content in its youth-rated films at the pace it did between 2005 and 2010, all youth-rated films would have been entirely smokefree by 2015. Despite all major studios’ adopting individual tobacco depiction policies, that did not happen. We therefore issue this plain-language demand:

The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration must apply an R-rating to any motion picture with tobacco imagery submitted for classification after June 1, 2018. Exceptions should be limited to films that exclusively portray actual people who used tobacco (as in documentaries or biographical dramas) or that depict the serious health consequences of tobacco use. 

As state Attorneys General told the industry in 2009, “[I]t is clear that every time the industry releases another movie that depicts smoking, it does so with full knowledge of the deadly harm it will bring to children who watch it.”

Tobacco industry documents show that the movie industry collaborated for decades in promoting smoking and tobacco brands, before and after the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report that smoking causes cancer. The U.S. film industry, simply by leaving smoking out of future films rated for adolescents here at home and in other markets, can turn the page and fundamentally alter the destiny of families around the world for decades to come.
The 25 August 2017 communication, copied to thirty U.S. companies engaged in film production, distribution, theatrical exhibition, video retailing and on-demand services, follows the June 2017 R-rating challenge issued by ten health organizations in a two-page advertisement in the entertainment trade press.
CDC's latest report on trends in on-screen smoking, published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (7 July 2017) accompanies the letter. The CDC found that progress in reducing tobacco incidents in youth-rated U.S. films stopped in 2010 and that smoking had recently intensified in PG-13 films.

Read the letter | View signers | View recipients | Social media graphics


• Read American Academy of Pediatrics' press release with individual statements from American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Cancer Society, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Breathe California Sacramento Region, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Smokefree Movies, Trinity Health and Truth Initiative. The Los Angeles County Health Agency also signed the letter but did not make a separate statement.