UK Health Organization Believes All Movies Featuring Smoking Should Be Rated For Adults Only

Thank goodness Golden Age stars like Humphrey Bogart aren’t still acting today… because if he were it seems Bogie and his ever-present cigarettes would only be in “adult’s only” movies.

At least that’s the recommendation from the Centre for Tobacco Control Studies and published by the British Thoracic Society, which suggests that smoking is treated equally with sex and violence in movies and any movie featuring smoking should lead to an automatic “18” rating. 

This is based on their “monkey see, monkey do” theory that is supported by the evidence that “15-year-olds who saw the most films showing actors smoking were 73% more likely to have tried it than those who had seen the fewest.”

Okay, I get that there is evidence to support this, but I have to play devil’s advocate here — how do the researchers know that the 73% weren’t also exposed to smoking in other ways?  Making the ban now isn’t going to remove smoking from the hundreds of films released in previous decades that featured smoking, either.  Will we also have follow-up rules about alcohol use and guns?   I get why smoking is kept out of G and PG movies today (although Walt Disney’s animated classics feature a fair amount of smoking given the more social acceptance of smoking in earlier decades — of course, it was almost always done by the villain) but to slap an otherwise “15” film in the UK with an “18” rating because of a few puffs is a little too “nanny state” for me.  That means a film like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland would receive an 18 rating because of a few short scenes of the Caterpillar puffing on his hookah.  That’s nuts, and removing the hookah would really remove an iconic image from Lewis Carroll’s story.

Despite being a nonsmoker I still find this heavy-handed and removes a potential character element from a filmmaker’s toolbox in the unlikely event it was actually enacted.  The UK is a huge market, so Hollywood would likely abide by any rule to keep a “15” film a “15” film and thus remove any sort of smoking references.  I of course understand that the members of the Centre for Tobacco Control Studies have their hearts in the right place, but where are their heads?

What are your thoughts, readers?  Is this proposed ban ridiculous or necessary?

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