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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, May 11, 2007

Hollywood smoking rating scripted by Harvard

Scarlett Johansson in "The Black Dahlia," via
the New York Times

Smoking will be weighed in movie ratings along with sex, violence and drug use, according to a new policy from a film industry panel influenced by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Before yesterday's announcement by the Motion Picture Association of America, only teenage smoking scenes were taken into account when its ratings board reviewed movies. Now all tobacco use will be evaluated, the MPAA said, taking into consideration whether the portrayals are historically accurate or otherwise appropriate to the film.

Smoking won't mean an automatic "R" rating, but new labels such as "glamorized smoking" or "pervasive smoking" will appear.

"The addition of tobacco smoking as a factor in determining a movie's rating marks an historic and important step by the film industry to protect children and adolescents from one of the most significant health concerns our nation and our children face today," HSPH dean Barry R. Bloom said in a statement.

Bloom, his Harvard colleague Jay Winsten, and Jonathan Samet of Johns Hopkins worked with the MPAA for more than a year to reduce the depiction of smoking in movies, bringing scientists to make presentions to the group.

"By placing smoking on a par with considerations of violence and sex, the Rating Board has acknowledged the public health dangers to children associated with glamorized images of a toxic and lethal addiction to tobacco," Bloom's statement said.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 03:23 PM
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