Company tobacco policies

By January 2013, all six major studios that control the Motion Picture Association of America had published individual company policies addressing tobacco depictions in their G, PG and PG-13 films. The policies vary in detail, but none match the evidence-based policy solutions endorsed by health experts worldwide.

Company policy loopholes often allow smoking for undefined 'creative' reasons or other subjective criteria. Film company policies also exempt the many studio-distributed films produced by a third-party or with a co-production partner, or produced outside the United States.

Despite adoption of company policies, tobacco content in youth-rated films has persisted at dangerous levels. No film company, before or after adopting its policy, has effectively eliminated smoking from its youth-rated films for more than a short period. In 2014, the US CDC observed that 'individual company policies alone have not been shown to be efficient in minimizing smoking in movies.'

The table below shows when each MPAA-member company adopted and revised its policy on tobacco depictions; lists some examples of policy language too subjective to be enforceable; and shows what percentage of each company's PG-13 films have included tobacco imagery, from the date the policy was adopted through 2014.  

Company tobacco policies | % of company's PG-13 films with smoking under each policy

Company Policy dated Subjective exceptions PG-13 w/ smoking
Comcast (Universal) 2007 'importance,' 'factual or creative standpoint,' 'difficulty in removing it' 48%
Disney 2007, 2012, 2015 portrayals of 'smoking in an unfavorable light or [that] emphasize the negative consequences' 30%
Fox 2012 'historical, biographical or cultural context,' 'important ... from a factual or creative standpoint' 47%
Sony 2012 'important tie to the creative context of the project or the creative vision of the filmmaker' 65%
Time Warner 2005, 2007 'compelling creative reason' 44%
Viacom (Paramount) 2013 'creative vision ... filmmaker believes that the depiction of smoking or tobacco is important to the film' 23%


Film data driven by Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California