05/11/2007 10:26 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hollywood Un-Puffed

Yesterday's announcement by the Motion Picture Association and the movie Ratings Board that tobacco smoking will be a factor in determining a film's rating--along with sex and violence--is an important victory for public health. The most important consequence of this decision is that it creates an incentive for filmmakers to think twice before depicting smoking in youth-accessible movies. If a production company contracts to deliver a PG-13 film to the marketplace, it will need to take into account, during the creative process, that glamorized or pervasive smoking could kick the film into the R rating category in violation of its contract. That's an important step forward. Some critics of this new policy contend that it does not go far enough, and they are probably right, but progress on big issues typically comes in incremental steps. For the first time, tobacco smoking is part of the equation in determining a film's rating. Bravo!