ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, when it comes to major movie studios banning things from their movies, there are a few obvious candidates. Sex, drug-use and adult themes are all pretty widely accepted to adversely influence young audiences, and so their presence in PG-13 movies is usually kept to a minimum.

What, though, of smoking? Well, a few days ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke about Disney's policy on the matter, and just how it would effect the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars movies. Disney's position?

If the movie is a PG-13 - which the vast majority of Disney movies are - then they will "absolutely prohibit" the depiction of smoking within it.

Which essentially means that:

Smoking is Officially Banned in All Disney (and Marvel) Movies

After all, with there being strikingly few R-rated Disney films, the ban is effectively a blanket one - despite Iger's assertion that historical accuracy would be acceptable grounds for the rule's suspension:

“For instance, we’ve been doing a movie on Abraham Lincoln, he was a smoker, and we would consider that acceptable."

Which means we won't be seeing Pinocchio (above), Cruella de Vil...

...or any other animated characters, for that matter...

...smoking on screen any time soon.

But Why is the Ban Happening?

Well, there are two key factors.

On the one hand, there's been a whole lot of controversy surrounding smoking in movies that are accessible to children for a long time now - so Disney are largely just erring on the side of popular opinion and received wisdom.

On the other, though, there's a growing block of compelling scientific evidence that suggests the influence on young children of seeing smoking depicted is far greater than we ever thought.

A 2012 report from the US Surgeon General, for instance, discovered that children aged 10-14 are more than twice as likely to try smoking when they've been exposed to it in movies - with the drop in recent years in youth smoking therefore presumably being partly creditable to the accompanying drop in cinematic depictions of smoking.

So, there's science behind it:

But What About Marvel?

After all, they have a long-line of cigar-chomping and cigarette-puffing heroes and villains, don't they?

Well, not actually so much as you'd think.

Notably, this isn't a new thing for Marvel - with the company's long-serving Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada instituting a blanket ban on smoking within the company's pages back in 2001 - a ban that even extended to past comics...

Pictured: The Change from 2010 to 2013...
Pictured: The Change from 2010 to 2013...

As he put it back in 2011:

“There’s only one [time] I’ve ever said “It’s my way or the highway” and that [was] cigarette smoking...I just didn’t want any of it in the books.”

What's more, The Incredible Hulk received severe criticism from the American Medical Association back in 2008 for the movie's depiction of General Ross' serious cigar habit...

...suggesting the policy may well be seen as timely by Kevin Feige and the rest of the top brass at Marvel Studios.

No word on whether Fox's Wolverine will give up the cigars for good any time soon, though...

What do you reckon, though? Is Disney right to ban all smoking in their PG-13 movies? Are there any other things you think they should - or definitely shouldn't - ban?

via MTV


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