November 15, 2016

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Court Rules MPAA Award Youth Ratings to Films with Tobacco Use

Last week federal judge Richard Seeborg ruled against the plaintiffs in the national class action lawsuit that claimed that the MPAA ratings were a form of commercial speech that did not warrant First Amendment protections.
The MPAA, studios, and theaters argued successfully that the ratings were “opinions” and not subject to restrictions on commercial speech that were designed to protect the public interest.
The scientific evidence that smoking in movies causes kids to smoke was not at issue.  The court simply said, that despite the science showing that onscreen smoking caused kids to smoke, the MPAA was free to award youth ratings to movies with smoking.
This item is cross-posted from the Smoke Free Movies blog at



...nothing of the sort.  Nowhere in the decision does the judge agree or even imply that "onscreen smoking caused kids to smoke."  He remained entirely silent on that discussion. 


... is that it was not at issue in hearing.  The MPAA and studios stipulated (at least for purposes of this hearing) that the science was correct that onsreen smoking caused kids to smoke.
The MPAA and studios argued that, despite the science, the ratings were "opinions" protected by the First Amendment and that they were under no obligation to act on the science.
Surprisingly, the judge agreed with the MPAA.

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