Movie ratings can deem tobacco use OK for kid's films, judge says

Posted at 8:03 PM, Nov 11, 2016

A U.S. District Court has ruled that the the Motion Picture Association of America has the right to assign whatever rating it wishes to movies that depict tobacco use, rejecting a claim form a parent who felt that a PG-13 film encouraged his kids to take up smoking.

Deadline reports the ruling was issued by Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco in response to a class action lawsuit filed by Timothy Forsyth in February. Forsyth says he brought his 13- and 12-year-old children to a PG-13 movie that depicted tobacco use — which he claims should have automatically made it an R-rated film.

According to Forsyth’s lawsuit, tobacco use in movies should be rated R unless it “clearly and unambiguously reflects the dangers and consequences of tobacco use or is necessary to represent the smoking of a real historical figure who actually used tobacco.”

However, Judge Seeborg ruled that movie ratings are a form of free speech. He gave Forsyth an opportunity to amend legal arguments, but the likelihood of success “appears remote.”

The MPAA said it is pleased with the court’s decision.



Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.