Calls on film industry to take additional actions to prevent youth smoking initiation


Washington (June 4, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, was today joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in calling on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to take action to reduce youth exposure to smoking imagery, including e-cigarette depictions, in youth-rated movies and ensure responsible and consistent practices in rating youth movies with tobacco imagery. Although tobacco impressions in youth-rated movies declined from 18.2 billion in 2002 to 2.9 billion in 2015, they have increased over the past two years to 4.6 billion in 2017.


“Although the evidence connecting smoking imagery to youth smoking initiation is strong, MPAA has yet to take meaningful action to discourage tobacco imagery in films or effectively warn viewers and parents of tobacco’s presence in a movie,” write the Senators in their letter to MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. “Our nation’s dramatic decline in youth tobacco use is a tremendous achievement, but on-screen depictions remain a threat to this progress and threaten to re-normalize tobacco use in our society. We cannot afford to lose any ground in this area.”


A copy of the letter can he found HERE.


After repeated requests from several state Attorneys General, the MPAA commissioned a study in 2007 that recommended, among other steps, that the MPAA establish “a movie ratings policy that creates an incentive for filmmakers to consider, and worry about, the depiction of smoking as a factor in the determination of a film’s rating.”  Similarly, the Surgeon General has suggested the assignment of an R-rating to movies that depict smoking in a non-historical manner. Disappointingly, from 2007 to 2017, the MPAA’s only action was to add small-print “smoking” labels to 11 percent of all top-grossing youth-rated films with smoking.