Keep smoking out of what kids watch . . . and save one million lives

Keep smoking out of what kids watch . . . and save one million lives

56,269 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
Petition to
Motion Picture Association Charles Rivkin and

Why this petition matters

Started by Smokefree Movies


Smoking causes cancer. Hollywood causes smoking. America took cigarette commercials off the air fifty years ago. But movies and TV shows — the stuff between commercials — have never stopped pushing toxic tobacco at kids.

How bad is it? Over the past decade, 48% of all top-grossing movies included more than 26,000 tobacco incidents and delivered 162 billion tobacco exposures to U.S. theater audiences alone. On smaller screens, the latest study found 92% of streaming shows most popular with teens depicted smoking, up from 79% the year before. 

Smoking in movies kills in real life. In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that smoking on screen causes kids to smoke. (Nearly 90% of smokers start before they're 18.) In 2016, the U.S. CDC projected that on-screen smoking will recruit more than six million of today's kids to smoke, killing more than two million of them. 

What is Hollywood hiding? Some of America's biggest media companies have a long history they don't talk about: decades of collaboration with tobacco companies even bigger than they are, dating back to the 1920s. In 2019, U.S. Senators asked Hollywood two basic child-safety questions: How many of their films and TV shows include tobacco? How many kids see it? Hollywood ignored the questions. They simply did not answer. 

What other industry would dare? What other industry, told of a proven physical danger to millions of kids, would refuse to include tobacco content in its movie and TV ratings … refuse to tell parents if their kids will be exposed … refuse to reveal, anywhere on screen, that this exposure is harmful to young viewers … and shut down any questions? (Sounds like Big Tobacco, doesn't it?)

Tobacco discriminates in a deadly way. Who gets hurt when Hollywood pushes vaping and smoking? Nicotine addiction hunts the young. Chronic disease stalks the lower-income. Early death takes the least-advantaged. Like a disease vector, U.S. movies and video spread the tobacco epidemic in other countries: 70% of Hollywood's revenue comes from overseas, where our smoky R-rated films are frequently down-rated for kids to consume. Where's the justice?

A reasonable, responsible solution. Nobody wants to ban all smoking on screen or mess with old movies. So what's the forward-looking, evidence-based answer? Modernize the film and TV ratings run by the entertainment industry itself. Adopting "R" and "TV-MA" standards for FUTURE smoking will keep kids' entertainment smokefree, cut their exposure in half, and save one million lives in the U.S. alone. And it doesn't cost taxpayers a dime.

Hollywood needs persuading. That's where you come in. The industry first saw the research and heard the R-rating recommended back in 2003. Since then, another American generation has spent its entire childhood exposed to toxic tobacco on screen. This petition offers Hollywood the best deal it will ever get. A chance to break from the past, without punishment. A chance to move forward, free of Big Tobacco's control. As young viewers, as parents, as taxpayers, we will ALL win.

One little letter "R" will save one million lives.


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56,269 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!