Is an actor shown puffing a cigarette in the latest teen movie? Slap it with an “R” rating, say San Mateo County supervisors, who passed a resolution Tuesday supporting a campaign to reduce the use of tobacco products on the silver screen.
The endorsement of the Smoke Free Movies campaign, approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, calls for the motion picture industry to adopt stricter regulations on the depiction of smoking in movies.
The effort, backed by the anti-smoking group Breathe California, urges the Motion Picture Association of America to give movies that show smoking an “R” rating unless the presentation shows the dangers of tobacco use or smoking is necessary to represent a “real historical figure.”
The board’s resolution also called for anti-smoking ads to be played before movies that include tobacco use, for producers to certify that no one in a production received anything of value for displaying tobacco and for movies to stop showing tobacco brands on screen.
“I think we’ve been working very hard here in our county on, obviously, living healthy, eating healthy,” said Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who proposed the resolution. “As adults, we can kind of look past some things, but I think sometimes for children, when they see a cartoon character or favorite character smoking a cigarette, that can have an impact.”
A report released last year by UC San Francisco researchers found that 61 percent of movies that
Breathe California also argues that exposure to smoking in movies recruits as much as 52 percent of new adolescent smokers.
Tissier said she proposed the resolution after students at Westmoor and Jefferson high schools in Daly City asked the county to take a stand on the issue.
Asked whether she thought Tuesday’s resolution would make a difference in the movie industry’s policies, Tissier said: “I think if (the anti-smoking advocates) continue to work with groups throughout the state. I don’t think it’s going to happen if just one county” backs the campaign.