On-screen smoking for adults only?

Eddie Murphy, as Jimmy, smokes in the award-winning PG-13 rated film Dreamgirls.

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: We'll get some poll numbers today about smoking in the movies. This poll comes from medical groups and university researchers. It finds that 70 percent of Americans support giving films an automatic R rating if they show actors smoking. Jeff Tyler tells us what's at stake for the tobacco industry.


JEFF TYLER: Each year, almost 400,000 kids are introduced to smoking through movies rated PG-13.

So says Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He says impressionable kids represent a crucial market for the industry.

STANTON GLANTZ: New smokers will smoke for about 20 years. The discounted present value of each year's worth of new smokers is about $4.1 billion to the tobacco industry. So the tobacco companies are making a fortune off smoking in the movies.

However, he says butts on the screen don't necessarily mean more butts in the cinema seats.

His own analysis shows that PG-13 movies that don't show smoking make an average of $8 million more at the box office.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...