June 7, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

California Senate advances resolution calling on MPAA to R-rate smoking films

Senate Concurrent Resolution 143 passed the California State Senate Health Committee on June 6, 2018 on a vote of 6-0  (5 Dems, 1 Rep).

SCR 143, authored by Senator Richard Pan, urges the major motion picture companies and their trade association, the Motion Picture Association of America, to give an “R” (Restricted) rating to any new film designed for viewing by children or teenagers that contains scenes of tobacco use, with limited exceptions.  This Resolution is sponsored by BREATHE CALIFORNIA Sacramento Region.

Dr. Gordon Garcia, a physician at Kaiser and father of Claire Garcia, who runs the Thumbs Up Thumbs Down data collection that the whole worldwide Smokefree Movies movement is based on represented Breathe California Sacramento Region and Dr. Stanton Glantz, Director, of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education Smokefree Movies project testified.

While the MPAA did not have the courage to formally oppose the resolution, a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America “expressed concern about” the Resolution, giving the MPAA’s standard set of half-truths.  Obviously, the members of the Committee were not persuaded by their comments.

My favorite down-in-the-weeds bit of sleight of hand was presenting the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA), the organization that actually issues the ratings, as somehow out of MPAA’s control.  CARA is housed in the MPAA building and led by an MPAA senior vice president and rating disputes and appeals by producers are ultimately resolved by the chiefs of MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), not by CARA personnel.

Rating rules and governance are also determined by MPAA and NATO. All this suggests that CARA is a department within MPAA and not the independent entity presented in MPAA’s description.

This arm’s length pretext is probably intended to reduce doubts among non-MPAA companies that their films will get fair treatment in ratings owned and administered by the major studios’ trade group — not to assure the rest of the country that ratings are worthy of trust.

Now the Resolution goes to the Senate Floor for a vote by the entire California Senate.  Dave  Modisette,

Manager of Legislative Affairs for Breathe California Sacramento Region and the other health organizations, particularly ACS CAN, will be organizing right away for this next step in the Legislative process. 

Here are the organizations that have endorsed SCR 143 so far:

American Academy of Pediatrics, California

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

American Stroke Association

Americans for Nonsmokers Rights

Breathe California Sacramento Region

California Academy of Family Physicians

California Medical Association

Dignity Health

Mercy Investment Services

Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment

San Francisco Marin Medical Society

Trinity Health

There is still time for more organizations to endorse the resolution.


This item is cross-posted from the Smokefree Movies blog.

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