Disney joins Universal in cutting smoking in movies

Reel Blog   

Disney announced yesterday it’s banning smoking in Disney-branded films. According to the Hollywood Reporter:

“The Walt Disney Co. shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking,” Iger wrote to (Congressman Ed) Markey. “We discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in Disney, Touchstone and Miramax films. In particular, we expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney-branded films will be nonexistent.”

Disney films are aimed at the family audience. Miramax and Touchstone tend to make more adult-oriented fare.

The move was welcomed by Markey, who has been a leading anti-smoking force in Congress.

“Disney’s decision to take a stand against smoking is groundbreaking, and I commend CEO Bob Iger for this important commitment,” Markey said. “Now it’s time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney’s lead.”

Smoking in the movies is one of several areas in which the entertainment industry has been under pressure from Washington. Lawmakers and regulators are also pressing for them to promote healthier foods and cut down on violence and foul language.

According to the American Lung Assn., cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 438,000 American lives each year, and about 90% of smokers begin smoking before age 21.

Universal adopted a policy in April that drops smoking from “youth-rated” films and will add health warnings to films that do include smoking.

Universal president and CEO Ron Meyer said the studio is committed to reducing the health risk connected with smoking.

“We hope that our decreased portrayals of smoking and smoking paraphernalia in youth-oriented movies will help reduce the incidence of smoking among young people,” he said. “If smoking is included in a youth-rated film released by Universal, we will include a health warning in our distribution channels. We feel it is important to use our influence to help stem a serious health problem in the U.S. and around the world. We believe it’s possible to do that while respecting filmmakers’ creative choices, and we are committed to partnering with them in this effort.”