And sometimes ‘R’ for smoking

by W. Andrew Powell

Nicolas Cage smoking in
Nicolas Cage smoking in ‘Matchstick Men’

In a long-awaited, but still controversial move by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), smoking in movies has possibly become an ‘R’ rated activity. Many groups have been calling on just such an action for years now, but there is a catch to the way that the rating will be applied.

CEO Dan Glickman confirmed in a statement that, “the rating board chaired by Joan Graves will now consider smoking as a factor – among many other factors, including violence, sexual situations and language – in the rating of films.”

What this means is that there is no automatic ruling that a film will be rated ‘R’ just because there is smoking. On the other hand it’s likely that a film that pushes the boundaries of violence, sexuality, and language, and also includes characters who smoke, will get pushed into the ‘R’ rating.

“Some have called for a mandatory R rating on all films that contain any smoking,” Glickman said. “We do not believe such a step would further the specific goal of providing information to parents on this issue.”

Glickman went on to say, “Three questions will have particular weight for our rating board when considering smoking in a film: Is the smoking pervasive? Does the film glamorize smoking? And, is there an historic or other mitigating context?”

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