Smoke Free Movies has launched a series of print advertisements in Variety and other publications. This advertisement first ran in Variety on February 13, 2007.
One in a series
Why 70% of Americans are ready to R-rate tobaco.
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.
2006 studio track records at SmokeFreeMovies.ucsf.edu
*Full report at www.ssrc.msstate.edu/socialclimate/ The R-rating, among other Smoke Free Movies policy proposals, is endorsed by the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Legacy Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Society for Adolescent Medicine, L.A. County Dept. of Health Services, National Network on Tobacco Prevention and Poverty, and others. This project is supported by the Arimathea Fund of the Tides Foundation and other donors. To explore this critical health issue, visit our web site or write: Smoke Free Movies, UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390.
Click here to read the full survey.