Walt Disney has become the first Hollywood studio to take smoking out of all of its films.
I didn’t notice any smokers in Ratatouille, and I couldn’t see them in a new traditional film from Disney either. But the FT article goes on to state that Bob Iger’s position is that “the company would also ‘discourage’ depictions of smoking in films made by its other studio labels.”
Disney’s owns Bob Weinstein’s Miramax Films which has released a ton of adult-oriented features including Tarantino’s, Pulp Fiction and Resevoir Dogs. Quentin Tarantino makes including cigarettes in his movies a recurrent presence. Iger goes on to say that argueing with filmmakers working under his roof about excluding cigarette smoking is a “confrontation we are certainly willing to have.”
The timing of the move is certainly not coincidental, as the MPAA recently began making smoking a factor in rating films. This change comes only two years after a suggestion by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. So while Disney is doing the right thing being the first to take a hard line on tobacco use, it is also protecting a kid-friendly film ratings.
Keeping cigarettes out of the movies is one thing, but Disney aims to make a difference in the nutrition level of its customers as well. In October of 2006 Disney published new guidelines for both food available on theme park menus along with its promotional and licensed foods available in stores. This is most likely a move to help slow down the increase in obesity among children, but you have to question, why is Disney in the food business in the first place?
If Disney is going to get serious about kid’s health they’re going to have to take a hard look at the ethics of marketing to children in the first place.