February 25th, 2009

Cigarettes in New Film Stir Anger at Studio

By Brooks Barnes
The New York Times

Angry at Warner Brothers over images of cigarettes in the comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You,” an arm of the American Medical Association is demanding that the studio step up its policing of tobacco images on screen.

The American Medical Association Alliance said it intends to lodge an official complaint on Thursday with Warner Brothers and its corporate parent, Time Warner, over “disturbing images of specific cigarette brands in this youth-rated movie,” said Melissa Walthers, director of the health advocacy group’s effort to reduce teenage smoking.

Among other things, the group wants Warner publicly to certify that it received no payment for the product placement and is asking all Hollywood studios to ban filmmakers from showing specific tobacco brands in their work. “There is absolutely zero artistic justification for this,” Ms. Walthers said in a telephone interview, adding that various studies estimate that smoking in films prompts 200,000 young people annually to start smoking.

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