Disney Bans Smoking in Youth-Rated Movies
If you’re a fan of Disney baddies like cigar-smoking Bill Sykes from Oliver & Company (and really, who isn’t a fan of Bill Sykes from Oliver & Company?), this news is relevant to your tobacco-stained interests: The Walt Disney Company has banned all depictions of smoking from all of its films released by its child-oriented labels (including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm) rated G through PG-13. Via a press release:
The Walt Disney Company has become the first major Hollywood studio to prohibit cigarette smoking depictions in films they produce with youth ratings. The company's new policy will limit smoking depictions to films with an R rating, a move the U.S. Surgeon General has said could save the lives of over 1,000,000 children if the entire industry followed suit.
And here is an excerpt from Disney’s official onscreen smoking policy, via the company’s website, which was last updated in June 2015. There are just two exceptions to the new rules:
Disney has determined not to depict cigarette smoking in movies produced by it after 2015 (2007 in the case of Disney branded movies) and distributed under the Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Lucasfilm labels, that are rated G, PG or PG-13, except for scenes that:
-depict a historical figure who may have smoked at the time of his or her life; or
-portray cigarette smoking in an unfavorable light or emphasize the negative consequences of smoking.
Would a villain smoking portray it in enough of an unfavorable light to qualify? I tend to doubt it (unless that villain, say, had lung cancer — a topic that tends to get brushed over in most children’s films for some reason). Frankly, I think this policy is a smart one, and probably long overdue. This isn’t a censorship issue. This is about protecting very impressionable young children. The world doesn’t need future generations growing up to become Bill Sykes. Tomorrow’s adults (and orphan dogs who like singing Billy Joel songs) will thank us.