As a filmmaker and -- please note -- non-smoker, I need to say something about the current push to make smoking in films a crime punishable by an R rating.
And that something is: hold on a second. What exactly are we talking about?
Let's start with what's true: Smoking is a terrible thing.
It kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. Young people shouldn't smoke, and seeing smoking in films probably influences millions of them to start. No argument.
The problem is that excess drinking is a terrible thing and also kills millions of people a year. And influences young people. Driving automobiles irresponsibly is a truly terrible thing and kills tens of thousands of people a year and influences young people. Guns are terrible things. Sexual harassment is a terrible thing. Robbery is a terrible thing. War is a terrible thing. Being mean to other children is a terrible thing.
The world is filled with terrible things that can influence children, and movies have depicted them since time immemorial. Should every terrible thing warrant an R-rating?
How much longer before we're all issued a set of mandatory peril-sensitive sunglasses...
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