Movie Creates Smoking Controversy
March 7th, 2011
The American Academy of Pediatrics released the following statement. Please let us know what you think about this topic. Comments are welcomed below.
Paramount’s Rango, PG with smoking, poses risk to children
Spotlighting need for R-rating, public health groups warn there’s no safe dose of movie smoking
March 7, 2011 — On Friday, March 4, Paramount and Nickelodeon (parent: Viacom) released Rango, a PG-rated animated feature with tobacco imagery. Multiple characters use cigars and a cigarette in the film. The hero, a chameleon, swallows a cigar and breathes fire in the face of a villain.
“While some in the film industry have taken preliminary steps to protect young audiences by making more movies smoke free, Paramount’s decision to include smoking in a movie designed for kids is really troubling,” said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy®.
“The public health community has made great progress in making every studio aware of the harm to America’s youth when they release films with smoking and animated films are no exception,” Healton said. “Even the cartoon Joe Camel has long been barred from reaching children to sell cigarettes. So it is a mystery why Hollywood’s masters of storytelling and visual effects have not found a better way to depict their characters without the danger of influencing young people to light up.”
Rigorous research finds grade-schoolers exposed to on-screen smoking are more likely to start smoking as teens. Researchers have also found that each instance of bad guys’ smoking in films has more impact on teens than good guys’ smoking. A surprising number of kid-rated movies feature cigars, attractive to new young smokers.
“While the incidence of smoking in the movies has declined in recent years, the presence of smoking in a youth-oriented cartoon like Rango underscores the need for Hollywood to take stronger, mandatory action to protect our children. It’s time for the Motion Picture Association of America to require an R-rating for movies that depict smoking,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
In 2007, thirty-one state Attorneys General wrote Paramount and other movie companies, “[E]ach time a member of the industry releases another movie that depicts smoking, it does so with the full knowledge of the harm it will bring to children who watch it...[E]liminate the depiction of tobacco smoking from films accessible to children and youth. There is simply no justification for further delay.”
"Based on the evidence, on-screen smoking is one of the biggest media dangers to children," said American Academy of Pediatrics President O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP. "There is no safe level of exposure. Parents should closely monitor tobacco content in the movies their kids watch, using online resources independent of the film industry. And companies delivering that exposure should immediately and fully embrace responsible policies, such as the R-rating, considered to be effective by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
Rango’s release with a “PG” rating and fine-print “smoking” descriptor comes four years after the MPAA began adding “smoking” labels to a fraction of wide-release PG and PG-13 films with smoking. Harvard School of Public Health, in a policy review commissioned by the MPAA, had warned that such labels were “cynical.”
The previews were deceptive....this was not the fun, adventurous animated movie we thought it was going to be. We took our family to celebrate my son's 10 birthday. This was dark, sexual innuendos, smoking, violence, foul language to name a few. Not to mention boring! We were so disappointed! Nickelodeon should be ashamed to send out such trash for a kids movie.
I think giving this movie an "R" rating would be ridiculous. The PG stands for "Parental Guidance", that means it gives the parents a chance to discuss the dangers of smoking. Parents have the most influence over whether or not a child smokes (unless peers are very persuasive) so I don't think seeing this movie would make a child want to smoke.