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Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Abstract

Smoking is the most common preventable causes of death in the United States and costs society billions of dollars each year. Most smokers become addicted at a young age, but often have no legal remedy from smoke-related injuries. Smoking in movies is a significant factor in the initiation of youth smoking, yet the Motion Picture Association of America ("MPAA") does not factor "smoking" into movie ratings. This note argues that in order to reduce the harmful effects of youth smoking, movies with depictions of cigarettes should be rated R. In order to pressure the MPAA into making this change, potential plaintiffs should sue the MPAA for damages as a result of smoke related injuries. In the alternative, this note proposes legislation requiring movies with cigarettes to be rated R. This note also analyzes the constitutionality of such legislation, specifically whether this regulation would violate the First Amendment. Regardless, the MPAA must act in order to reduce the initiation of youth smoking. The best way to accomplish this goal is to give movies that depict cigarettes an R rating.

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