In the US, a growing number of medical and public health agencies are calling for movies with smoking scenes to be adult rated. We present four arguments against such proposals. First, studies purporting to demonstrate causal associations between exposure to smoking in movies and smoking uptake do not control for large-scale confounding of the independent variable (smoking in movies). Second, claims for attributable uptake of smoking said to be caused by movie smoking exposure are crudely reductionist, ignoring widespread exposure to smoking scenes elsewhere. Third, adult classification is a highly inefficient way of preventing youth exposure to adult-rated content. Fourth, we have concerns about the assumption that advocates for any cause should feel it reasonable that the state should regulate cultural products like movies, books, art, and theatre in the service of their issue.
Four arguments against the adult-rating of movies with smoking scenes