Disney decides to kick the habit


The Walt Disney Company has promised House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) that it will discourage depictions of tobacco use in its films, and will completely eliminate them from any film under the Disney brand. In a letter to Markey, Disney President and CEO Robert A. Iger said, "The Walt Disney Company shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking. We discourage depictions of cigarette smoking in Disney, Touchstone and Miramax films. In particular, we expect that depictions of cigarette smoking in future Disney branded films will be non-existent. In response to your suggestion, our Company will place an anti-smoking PSA on DVD's of any future film that does depict cigarette smoking." Additionally, Disney said it will work with theater owners to run a PSA before screenings of such films. Markey commended Disney challenged the rest of the industry "to similarly kick the habit."

SmartMedia observation: It never hurts to take the high road when you can. The goal here is to prevent young people from becoming smokers in the first place. However, there's a flip side as well – we have gone through the process of quitting the habit, and for a while there it was very difficult to watch Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Sometimes we just wanted to leap into the screen to ask Bogie if he had a spare butt we could bum. We believe a no-smoking policy should be a guideline, not a dictate. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and sometimes smoking is an integral part of a story – like if you are doing a biopic on Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. But if a cigarette is nothing more than a prop to give some nervous actor some business for his hands, have him take up embroidery or tie trout flies of some other non-carcinogenic activity, and let magazines be the guests of dishonor the next time Markey holds a hearing on tobacco promotion.