Lawmaker asks Hollywood to raise awareness

A senior lawmaker wants more action from Hollywood against smoking, and the Motion Picture Assn. of America pledged to try opening a direct dialogue on the issue.

During a House subcommittee hearing on Friday examining images children see in the media, chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked MPAA topper Dan Glickman if he would talk with member studios about the following:

  • Including antismoking public service announcements on DVDs.

    Certifying that no one involved during a production received anything of value for using or displaying tobacco in the film.

  • Eliminating tobacco brand imagery from movies.

While noting that these would all be decisions for the individual studios to make, Glickman proposed that studio representatives talk directly with Markey about each.

In May, the MPAA announced that it would begin considering smoking as a factor in rating movies. Many, including Markey, praised that step, but questions remained.

As Markey said in his opening statement, “It is unclear how this policy will be implemented. For instance, will depictions of smoking automatically get an R, or will that rating only be given to a movie with a certain level or type of smoking?”

American Legacy Foundation prexy Cheryl Healton, who also appeared before the subcommittee, dismissed the MPAA announcement as “wholly inadequate” and a “hesitant half step.” “The policy contains no objective standards or commitment to actually do anything,” she added. Glickman said that studios are committed to reducing scenes that glamorize smoking in movies but that such goals need to be balanced against concerns for artistic freedom. He also said that Hollywood has accepted no money from a tobacco company for product placement in a movie.

“Why not have studios come talk to you?” Glickman said after Markey asked him whether the studios would consider his three proposals. Markey said he would welcome that.

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