Motion Picture Association of America faces lawsuit over cigarettes in movies

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Should Cigarettes in Movies Spark an R Rating?

The Motion Picture Association of America is facing a class-action lawsuit over depictions of smoking in movies rated PG-13 and lower.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, those battling the MPAA say it's irresponsible to give movies a G, PG or PG-13 rating if they show smoking.

The MPAA argues movie ratings are "opinions" that aim to reflect how most parents would judge a film for kids. MPAA lawyers say those opinions are protected by the First Amendment.

SEE MORE: The CDC Says Ads Are Encouraging Teens To Smoke E-Cigarettes

But plaintiffs say this really isn't a matter of free speech, it's an issue of false advertising that could hurt kids.

In 2012, a surgeon general report concluded there's a causal relationship between smoking in movies and younger people starting to smoke.

RELATED: The 15 highest-grossing animated movies of all time

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The 15 highest-grossing animated movies of all time
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The 15 highest-grossing animated movies of all time

15. "Monsters, Inc." (2001) $423.4 million (adjusted for ticket price inflation)

$289.9 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney/Pixar

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

14. "Toy Story 3" (2010) $447.8 million (adjusted)

$415 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney/Pixar

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

13. "Aladdin" (1992) $449.9 million (adjusted)

$217.3 million - unadjusted

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

12. "Lady and the Tramp" (1955) $478.2 million (adjusted)

$93.6 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

11. "Cinderella" (1950) $517.3 million (adjusted)

$93.1 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

10. "Finding Nemo" (2003) $528.4 million (adjusted)

$380.8 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney/Pixar

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

 

9. "Bambi" (1942) $546.6 million (adjusted)

$102.2 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

8. "Pinocchio" (1940) $578.3 million (adjusted)

$84.2 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

7. "Shrek 2" (2004) $609.6 million (adjusted)

$441.2 million - unadjusted

Photo: DreamWorks Animation

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

6. "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) $623.5 million (adjusted)

$51.6 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

5. "The Jungle Book" (1967) $632.1 million (adjusted)

$141.8 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

4. "Fantasia" (1941) $712.5 million (adjusted)

$76.4 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

3. "The Lion King" (1994) $764.8 million (adjusted)

$422.7 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

2. "101 Dalmatians" (1961) $857.2 million (adjusted)

$144.8 million - unadjusted

Photo: Disney

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

1. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) $935.2 million (adjusted)

$184.9 million - unadjusted

Photo: RKO Radio Pictures

Numbers provided from Box office Mojo

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Since then, there have been some changes to smoking in movies. In 2015, Disney announced its policy would further restrict smoking in movies. The company does have exceptions for historical figures that smoked or when negative aspects of smoking are emphasized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says youth-rated movies "that were smokefree increased from 2002 to 2015 (from 35% to 62%)."

SEE MORE: Fewer And Fewer People Are Smoking In The US

The CDC says giving R ratings to movies that depict smoking "would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5 and prevent 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today."

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