Smoking, Drinking Should Matter in Movie Ratings, Parent Survey Finds

Although many parents believe smoking and drinking alcohol should be factored into movie ratings, fewer than half of parents surveyed felt such behaviors warranted an “R” rating for a film.
And, only about one-quarter felt that smoking in movies was enough of a factor on its own to justify an R rating. Yet, past studies have shown that high exposure to smoking scenes in movies increases the risk of teen smoking.
“Parents need to know that in terms of risk factors for smoking and possibly alcohol use, movies have a strong influence on children,” said the study’s lead author, Meghan Longacre, an instructor and research coordinator at the Hood Center for Children and Families at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.
“I think our study suggests that researchers and public health advocates need to do a bit more work to educate parents about the relationship between movie smoking exposure and children’s initiation, and to motivate and assist them to monitor their children’s movie viewing,” she added.
Dr. Jonathan Pletcher, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said the “onus can’t all be on the parents. This goes beyond what a parent is able to control in our society. Kids are getting bombarded with these messages every day.”
But, Pletcher added, smoking and drinking are definitely things that parents should try to talk about with their children. That way, you can help put these behaviors into context and convey your own values to your child, he said.
The current Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating system judges films based on adult themes, violence, language, nudity, sex and drug use. Because research has linked movie smoking with an increased risk of teen smoking, public health advocates have requested that smoking behavior also be included in the rating system, according to background information in the study, which was published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
The MPAA recently said it would consider smoking along with many other factors in rating films. However, the MPAA doesn’t take alcohol use into account.
To assess the importance of these behaviors to parents, Longacre and her colleagues interviewed 2,564 parents from New Hampshire and Vermont about movie ratings. Most of the parents surveyed were mothers, and most were white. Their children were between the ages of 9 and 15 years.
Just over half felt that cigarettes should be factored into the ratings system, while 66 percent felt alcohol use should be. Almost 29 percent of parents thought that smoking in a film justified an R rating. Nearly 42 percent said that alcohol consumption was enough by itself to garner an R designation.
Longacre said the researchers were somewhat surprised that the parents seemed to be more concerned about drinking in movies than smoking. “It could reflect the fact that parents aren’t aware of the research on exposure to movie smoking,” she said. Or, “it also could reflect a greater recognition that adolescents are more likely to drink than smoke, and/or a greater concern with the negative consequences of teen drinking that may seem more immediate and dire to parents, such as drinking and driving, compared to the longer-term health consequences of smoking.”
Pletcher pointed out one weakness of the study — there wasn’t a great deal of diversity in the study population, and he noted that there are “wide variations in how much people smoke or drink in different communities. In different areas, it’s quite possible you’d get different results.”
Source: Healthday ®

Philip Morris Int’l profit falls nearly 8 percent

Philip Morris International Inc.’s CEO said Wednesday that the stronger dollar shrank the company’s profit from selling cigarettes in other currencies and it will drag down profit this year again.
When the dollar’s value rises in relation to other currencies, profits from sales in those currencies is diminished as they are translated back into dollars.
The company sells Marlboro, L&M and Parliament cigarettes outside the U.S.
Its stock fell $1.13, or 3 percent, to $37.19 in afternoon trading.
“The (negative) impact of currency is much greater than we previously realized,” Citigroup analyst Adam Spielman told investors. “The underlying business is performing exactly as we had expected, which in this economy is probably a mild positive. But in our view the much greater-than-expected currency sensitivity is a clear negative.”
Philip Morris International’s profit in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 fell nearly 8 percent. It earned $1.45 billion, or 71 cents per share. That’s down from $1.57 billion, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier but well above Wall Street estimates.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average expected a profit of 62 cents per share.
The cigarette maker said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 2 percent to $15.22 billion.
Philip Morris International, with offices in New York and Lausanne, Switzerland, is the world’s largest non-governmental cigarette seller, smaller only than state-controlled China National Tobacco Corp.
The company spun off from Altria Group Inc. in March 2008. Altria still owns Philip Morris USA, which sells Marlboros in the U.S.
Philip Morris International predicted its 2009 profit will be between $2.85 and $3 per share, at current exchange rates, including an 80-cent hit per share caused by the dollar’s strength.
“The global economic crisis obviously results in uncertainty, particularly on the currency front, and at current exchange rates we face a steep hurdle,” Chief Executive Louis Camilleri said in a statement.
Camilleri said the bulk of the hit the company took from the strong dollar came in Russia, Turkey, Mexico and Ukraine.
While currency comparisons hurt the company, Camilleri said that all signs were that it will continue to generate strong sales.
“We have not witnessed any evidence of a shift in consumer behavior in emerging markets,” he said on a conference call with investors. “No sign of consumer down-trading has yet been detected. This is obviously good news.”
The tobacco company has even raised prices. In recent months, the company has raised prices in countries around the world, including Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the U.K. and others.
For all of 2008, the company’s net income rose 14 percent to $6.89 billion from $6.04 billion. It earned $3.32 per share. Revenue rose 15 percent to $63.64 billion in its first year as an independent company.
Both Philip Morris companies are pursuing sales of smokeless tobacco products to replace the revenue they expect to lose as cigarette demand continues falling.
Sales volume in the U.S. has been falling due to smoking bans, higher taxes and health concerns.
Philip Morris International said Tuesday it had joined Swedish Match for a global partnership to make and sell smokeless products.
Richmond, Virginia-based Philip Morris USA closed on its $10.4 billion takeover of UST Inc. last month, giving it the market leader and brands such as Copenhagen and Skoal.
Philip Morris International also said it has bought the rights to the Petteroes trademark, a fine-cut brand sold in Norway. During the third quarter, Philip Morris International completed its acquisition of Canadian cigarette maker Rothmans Inc. for $2 billion Canadian dollars.

Cigarette prices rise ahead of looming taxes

Though a federal cigarette tax hike remains weeks away, at least two U.S. cigarette makers already have upped prices and another is cutting some wholesaler discounts as demand drops.
Both Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris USA, and Lorillard Inc., which makes Newport cigarettes, increased their carton and pack prices in recent days.
Neither company would say what prompted the increases. But the federal tax on cigarettes will rise from 39 cents a pack to almost $1.01 on April 1. . . .
Arkansas’ proposed 56-cent increase, which already passed the state House, would pay for a statewide trauma system and a host of expanded health programs. Lindblom dismissed Mathe’s claim that the increase “unfairly burdens a small group.”
“They are killing those people and making them suffer and live horribly sick and disabled lives,” Lindblom said. “For them to have this kind of sympathy for them on a monetary level when they don’t care they are harming people enormously by their aggressive marketing of their product is two-faced and shameful.”