Ad 41

Publication(s): 
Variety
Date of first publication: 
2007-02-13T00:00:00
Headline: 
Why 70% of Americans are ready to R-rate tobacco.
Text: 
Why 70% of Americans are ready to R-rate tobacco. Concern among parents grew by 10 percent last year alone. A Tobacco ‘Penalty’? Tobacco on screen is worth $4.1 billion a year (npv) in future sales revenue to tobacco companies. But receipts from more than 1,200 live-action releases since 1999 show that films with tobacco take in 29% less at the box office, on average. Is Hollywood paying for Big Tobacco’s gains? Smoking Films vs. Smokefree Films Average box office by rating, 1999-2006 (in millions of 2006 dollars) G/PG Smoking: $48.5 G/PG Smokefree: $68.4 PG-13 Smoking: $59.4 PG-13 Smokefree: $67.6 R Smoking: $32.4 R Smokefree: $50.1 The MPAA has said that it needs to hear from America’s parents before it adopts new industrywide policies on tobacco. Now it can: Parents Want Action The latest nationwide poll by the Social Science Research Center* finds that: • Four out five U.S. adults agree that movies influence adolescents to smoke; • 70 percent want films with tobacco R-rated except if they show the health dangers of smoking; • Two-thirds say theaters should be required to show anti-smoking ads before any film with smoking; • 60 percent want tobacco logos kept out of all movie scenes. Support Is Growing for the R-Rating and Other Voluntary, Non-Intrusive Solutions Public concern about films’ influence on teen smoking and support for measures endorsed by health authorities has built over the past twelve months. • Concern about movies’ smoking influence increased among all adults by 7 percent, among parents by 10 percent; • The majority favoring the R-rating grew by 12 percent; • Public backing for anti-smoking ads in theaters and no more brand display also climbed. Now that the MPAA knows where parents are heading on this issue, it has two options: Option A | If parts of the film industry have an economic stake in pushing tobacco, the MPAA could choose to resist reform using the tobacco industry’s own tactics: • Co-opt famous names and institutions to front for them; • Attack and distort the independent science; • Propose endless studies that delay and obfuscate; • Encourage PR-driven “educational” campaigns that don’t reduce teen exposure; • Substitute do-nothing, placebo policies (like adding “tobacco use” to PG-13 ratings) for genuine solutions (R-rating future tobacco scenes). Colluding on such strategies helped earn Big Tobacco its federal conviction for fraud and civil racketeering. Will the MPAA be more prudent? Option B | Why not simply adopt the effective, forward-looking solutions already on the table? • R-rating tobacco doesn’t need to mean more R-rated films, just smokefree G/PG/PG-13 films. Films that show tobacco’s dire health consequences or depict the tobacco use of actual historical figures will be exempted from the updated R-rating. • Anti-tobacco ads in all distribution channels will help mitigate the pro-tobacco effect of R-rated films, which will continue to account for some teen exposure. • Keeping brands off screen is a no-brainer. Why even look like product placement? • Certifying no payoffs in the final credits, under penalty of perjury, will discourage anyone in the film industry from taking tobacco money in the future. It will also reassure a nation increasingly ready and willing to take strong action to protect its children.
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