Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday became the first major Hollywood
studio to ban depictions of smoking, saying there would be no
smoking in its family-oriented, Disney-branded films and it would
"discourage" it in films distributed by its Touchstone and Miramax
Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger also said in a letter to U.S.
Rep. Edward Markey, whose committee last month held hearings on the
effects of movie images on children, that the studio would place
anti-smoking public service announcements on DVDs of any future
films that feature cigarette smoking.
He said the company would encourage theater owners to screen
anti-smoking public service announcements, or PSAs, before such
Iger cautioned that "cigarette smoking is a unique problem and
this PSA effort is not a precedent for any other issue."
Markey described Disney's commitment as "groundbreaking" and
urged other studios to follow suit.
Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy
Foundation, commended Disney's move but said the studio left "some
ambiguity about what would happen in relation to Touchstone and
Research cited by American Legacy, a nonprofit created from
landmark litigation between the tobacco industry and states
attorneys general, children with the highest exposure to smoking in
movies were nearly three times more likely to start smoking.
Tobacco is featured in three-quarters of G, PG and PG-13 rated
movies and 90 percent of R-rated movies, the studies showed.
Seth Oster, executive vice president of the Motion Picture
Association of America, said the move to marginalize smoking in
movies "very clearly demonstrates the film industry is committed to
playing a role in reducing the impact of tobacco on kids in this
The Weinstein Co., an independent film production company, is
using PSAs produced by American Legacy ahead of its films that
depict smoking, Healton said.
Universal Studios, owned by General Electric, said in April that
it would reduce the portrayal of smoking in films rated for PG-13
and younger audiences. No such films have been produced since the
"We feel it's important to use our influence to help stem a
serious health problem in the United States and around the world,"
said Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal
Studios. "We believe it's possible to do that while respecting
filmmakers' creative choices and we are committed to partnering
with them in this effort."
(Agencies via CRI.cn July 26, 2007)