ABC News’ Ed O’Keefe reports: The glamorous images of Hollywood actors smoking on the big screen may be coming to an end for one major movie studio.
The head of Disney, the parent company of ABC News, pledged to Congress Wednesday he would limit images of smoking in films from his studio — the first in Hollywood to do so.
"We discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in Disney, Touchstone and Miramax films," reads a letter from Robert Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company to Rep. Ed. Markey, D-Mass., chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. "We expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney branded films will be non-existent."
Markey, who held a Congressional hearing about the influence of cigarette images in movies and television last month, applauded Disney’s pledge Wednesday.
"Disney’s decision to take a stand against smoking is groundbreaking and I commend CEO Bob Iger for this important commitment. Now it’s time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney’s lead," Markey said in a press release.
However anti-smoking advocates say Disney’s promise may not actually result in less on-screen smoking images.
"It is not clear what ‘discourages’ means or how that ‘discouragement’ will be operationalized," said Stanton Glantz, an anti-tobacco researcher at UC San Francisco.
"Who will be responsible for doing the "discouraging" and what are the consequences if the producer/director of a given film ignores Disney? It would be much clearer and more enforceable and trackable if the policy is that they would not produce or distribute youth rated films with any smoking as a matter of policy," said Glantz.
Glantz also worried that ‘Disney branded’ films — which are usually G and PG-rated films that generally do not include smoking — represent a minority of the films that the Walt Disney Company produces and distributes.