Smoking in films to cause automatic 18/R-cert?

Here's an interesting article on proposals here in the UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/20/smoking-films-automatic-18-rating
The general idea, recommended by the British Medical Journal, is that any film containing smoking should have an automatic 18 certificate. That's roughly equivalent to an R rating in the States, I think. This in theory would help to prevent young people from thinking that smoking is cool, and therefore dissuade them from smoking.
What do people think about this idea?
Personally I'm entirely against it on principle - legislating like this against depicting certain types of behaviour is a slippery slope and is likely to have a 'chilling effect': rather than risk an 18-cert, movies will simply remove smoking. A period film set in the early 20th century would no longer have authentic smoking - suddenly everybody would be cigarette-free, spoiling the authenticity.
Of course, we already censor and restrict based on other aspects - drugs, violence, sex - and I have problems with a lot of that as well. But extending it to things that are bad for you but otherwise morally neutral is a baaaad idea.
Thoughts?

Comments

  • Couldn't agree more with you. Slippery slope indeed. What next? Swearing becomes rated 18? Wearing high heels (probably bad for posture)? Person can't cross the street in a movie w/o lollipop man?
  • Hold up!! In the UK, a film containg drg use, violence, and etc is a auto 18 rating?? I dont think a teenager see a charcter in a movie that smokes and goes off and smokes himself. Smoking is usually peer pressure from friends and etc. At what point is our rights being taken away from us! I'm not sure how it is in the UK, but in the states there are characters smoking on tv shows. This is just another bad idea. Someone dont like to smoke and tries to censor it from others, well you dont like to smoke leave the smokers alone and let movies have smokers and drinkers! It is a slippery slope!! We got things like that In the US that just makes me mad, I dont smoke, but DVD's you buy here have anti smoking ads on them before the movie. I'm tired of censoring things. Let a movie just be a good movie, smoking or not! There are my 2 cents! :P
  • This would be completely ridiculous, it would make films loose realism; characters smoke in film as people smoke in reality - the issue here wouldn't be with historical/ period films as these would have enough justification to pass without a restricted age limit by the BBFC's regulations; just like images of un-sexualised nudity, justified language and injury detail can pass in a films rated PG/12.
    what this would effect is any new contemporary films, but studios have already taken it upon themselves to clean up the image of some it's famous characters, take Die Hard 4 as an example, the first three films have John McLane as a man who smokes, drinks and swears, the films contain plenty of blood - then we have the 4th film where the studios cleaned up John to suit a PG-13 rating, no smoking, no strong language - some changes are an understandable evolution of the character (smoke,drink) - but removing the blood and language gives the film a completely different feeling.
    My point being studios already restrict content, making something an automatic 18 would make studios remove cigarettes completely as it would be commercial suicide - it would change already established characters, and remove a sense reality from films.
    I see stories like this are gossip, there is not enough justification to pass it as a rule, films are art and should not have something like smoking restricted, if more rules like this pop up we'll end up with a 21st century 'Hays Code'.
  • edited September 2011
    I agree with everyone else. Although I understand why they would try this, it is completely ridiculous in my opinion. As already mentioned, you would lose a lot of authenticity in any movie with a rating less than 18. Also, this seems to be just one step closer to censorship, right? I mean how far will they take this?
    @StrikeEmStudios I never noticed that about Die Hard 4 till you mentioned it, although he still uses his catch phrase, he does dial down on everything else. One note-worthy thing is that with the newest installment of Rambo, they didn't do this. It was just as bloody, gory, and vulgar as the others, imo.
  • edited September 2011
    I couldn't agree with you guys more. The problem also involves what comes next. I haven't had a cigarette since January and have switched to e-cigs. There was a proposal in our town to ban cigarette smoking in open air parks which goes further than what the film rating does (maybe? or am I comparing apples to oranges?). Granted, the point was made that studios will modify behaviors of characters in film to match changing times, Bond certainly went through some politically correct changes, but once given an inch/centimeter those making the rules will take a mile/kilometer. So if a film has an e-cig user will the 18 certificate apply there too? In our town a lady argued that e-cigs should also be banned from parks because they set a "bad example". Forget that the person isn't smoking dangerous chemicals anymore, can not harm themselves much less anyone else and commend them for not using tobacco but condemn them instead because it looks similar to smoking. I wonder if the 18 certificate would hold up for an e-cig.
    It is my contention that parents should be the ones to curb a teens desire to smoke. Peer pressure does come into play but ultimately the parent or guardian should be the biggest influence to do or not to do something. Besides, there will always be cases like mine where I was not interested in smoking while I lived at home with my parents, and both of them did smoke at the time, but once at college, peer pressure came into play but I was also legally independent. My decision to start smoking had NOTHING to do with any movie; which makes me wonder if this 18 certificate debate isn't due to health care cost reasons driven by the government rather than just being a bad influence in movies.
    I loved some of the comments below the article- especially the one that asked "So smoking is worse than killing?". Evidently! Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings- what's left for kids if they take these away? Ridiculous, I say.
    Thanks, Simon- I'm going to blog about this on my local paper's website. Should be an interesting topic indeed.
    added this @ 1:54 PM
    I don't know about kids in England but I tend to think this is probably the same behavior everywhere, but I know teenagers like to sneak into movies they shouldn't be going into. If the rating changes because of smoking in a movie doesn't it really impact the younger kids 4, 5, 6, & 7 year olds? What gets me is they will be robbed of seeing a wholesome movie because for two seconds a character is seen smoking and I'll bet you any money they probably see people smoking in real life every day so what the heck is the point? :((
  • I think everyone has big points, especially with the character thing. For instance, Gandalf, from the LOTR trilogy and the Hobbit is known, in the books anyway, for his rather impressive smoke rings. I believe that you would lose a rather small, but imo, important part of his character. Of course the same goes with lots of characters from older films and such. Will they re-rate old films to fit the new rating if this passes?

  • I think everyone has big points, especially with the character thing. For instance, Gandalf, from the LOTR trilogy and the Hobbit is known, in the books anyway, for his rather impressive smoke rings. I believe that you would lose a rather small, but imo, important part of his character. Of course the same goes with lots of characters from older films and such. Will they re-rate old films to fit the new rating if this passes?

    I believe the preposition to restrict smoking is purely hypothetical, and the article is expanding on the 'research' data; as I said in my original post, there is not enough of an argument to put this in motion, film is an art so to remove or restrict an everyday item that is in just about every film and tv show ever made is (for lack of a less cliché term) like taking away a artist's pencil.
    considering the countless amount of films where smoking is featured, re-rating would be completely out of the question besides it would cause financial issues as distributers will have to re print both discs and disc sleeves. *If* such a restriction was put in place, it would cause huge continuity issues in on-going film series and alter characters at the same time as removing a sense of realism from the productions.

  • I believe the preposition to restrict smoking is purely hypothetical, and the article is expanding on the 'research' data; as I said in my original post,

    My bad.
  • edited September 2011
    I think that an R rating is a bit harsh but extreme language and sex stuff needs a R.
    by the way the new update ROCKS!

  • I think that an R rating is a bit harsh but extreme language and sex stuff needs a R.

    But not violence?

    I suspect the smoking report has been publicised this widely for a couple of reasons - the creators of the report will like the exposure, while the vested interests in the film/TV industries will want to get the word out ASAP in order to create the expected backlash/uproar, which will in turn help to prevent it from ever happening.
    Hopefully. :)
  • In my opinion there is a difference between gore and violence. For instance most of the fights in the Matrix don’t have that much gore compared to a horror film.
  • True, though you could argue that sanitised violence that doesn't show the real consequences is actually far less responsible and more dangerous than Hollywood violence where somebody gets shot and they fall down quietly and go to sleep.
    I'm actually a big fan of violence being nasty, because violence IS nasty. To show it as anything else seems slightly irresponsible.
    There is, however, a difference between realistic violence along the lines of History of Violence, and the gratuitous violence of Saw et al.
  • What were they smoking?

    ;)
  • edited September 2011
    Good point Simon.
  • Thing is, I think the certification system is pretty messed up. The swearing you see in 15's is a little bit beyond. However, I feel that smoking in films is all to do with the context. Who ever thought this up was clearly only considering the whole , teenagers smoking in films kinda thing. Where as period dramas etc use them for artistic license and realism. I don't think cigarettes are the problem with the rating systems.
  • Well if they're going to do that then surely that means all tv programming pre 9pm would need smoking removing as well, otherwise it's just a ridiculous idea. Kids will smoke regardless, and will see the film by pirating or DVD release. Following this through would just be closed minded.
  • If they want to make smoking uncool maybe they should make politicians chain smoke whenever there on tv.
    It seems that everyone who has posted here thinks its a bad idea and im in agreement with them
  • Where does it stop? If smoking in a film gets an R, whats next? Riding a motor cycle with out a helmet is dangerous and illegal in many locations. Are we to hand out R ratings because someone isn't wearing a helmet? You almost never see someone in a film wearing safety glasses or other safety equipment when operating power tools, is that going to get an R as well? Over eating and being over weight is unhealthy, lets slap an R on any film with fat people in it.
    I've always thought the ratings system was dumb anyway. Parents should raise their kids, not expect bureaucratic governments to do it. If you want to control what your kids see, then go and watch it for your self and then decide if it is appropriate for your own kids. Personally, I say let them watch and then after, spend a little time talking with them and discuss anything in the film you think should be discussed. If a movie showed smoking or alcohol use, then use that as a spring board to open a dialogue on those matters. If you want your kids raised with certain values, guess what, step up and raise them with those values, spend time being a parent and talk to your kids about what is important to you instead of letting the media babysit for you.
  • I'm with Simon on this. i watch vids with smoking in them all the time, (not that I watch them cause they smoke, its just lots of cool movies do have smoking in them) and I'm only 11, and i hate smoking and im not going to, so WHY ALL THE FUSS BMJ?

  • Where does it stop? If smoking in a film gets an R, whats next? Riding a motor cycle with out a helmet is dangerous and illegal in many locations. Are we to hand out R ratings because someone isn't wearing a helmet? You almost never see someone in a film wearing safety glasses or other safety equipment when operating power tools, is that going to get an R as well? Over eating and being over weight is unhealthy, lets slap an R on any film with fat people in it.
    I've always thought the ratings system was dumb anyway. Parents should raise their kids, not expect bureaucratic governments to do it. If you want to control what your kids see, then go and watch it for your self and then decide if it is appropriate for your own kids. Personally, I say let them watch and then after, spend a little time talking with them and discuss anything in the film you think should be discussed. If a movie showed smoking or alcohol use, then use that as a spring board to open a dialogue on those matters. If you want your kids raised with certain values, guess what, step up and raise them with those values, spend time being a parent and talk to your kids about what is important to you instead of letting the media babysit for you.

    Couldn’t have said it better. ;)
  • Difficult to say what is best Simon. There has been a proven link between children seeing smoking in films and tv and increased usuage. In period pieces I would agree it would be out of the norm for no one to smoke. It would also be difficult to adapt a novel Such as H Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy" where most of the main characters smoke and where the alien life forms adopt the habit to be like them. I would prefer not to see it in films aimed at children but I certainly wouldn't give it an automatic 18 plus rating.
  • Its also odd that the US can be more uptight about swearing and sex and nudity than about violence. Meanwhile the UK seems to be doing a we know what's best approach. Never good.

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