We may soon live in a world where children won't be allowed to watch "101 Dalmatians."
That's because the World Health Organization has asked for a move that would require kids to be 18 years old before watching a movie that includes smoking, effectively making it so your child can't watch movies with Cruella de Vil.
This comes from a new WHO report that also calls for governments worldwide to lessen the amount of child exposure to smoking or tobacco promotion, The Mirror reported.
"With ever tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, film remains one of the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions," Dr. Douglas Bettcher, the WHO's director for the Department of Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases, said in a press release. "Smoking in films can be a strong form of promotion for tobacco products."
The WHO report said films with tobacco scenes should have increased ratings and display warnings before the movie starts as a way to help wean children away from tobacco use. Only adults 18 and up should see these movies, the report said.
Onscreen smoking is rather prevalent in today's film industry. Movies with smoking scenes often have a lot of them, with the average number of tobacco scenes per movie jumping from 21 to 38 percent from 2002 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, it has led to more than 37 percent of American youngsters picking up the habit. On-screen smoking can recruit up to 6 million new smokers, with 2 million of those dying from tobacco-related diseases, according to the CDC.
But there has been a small decline in these sorts of movies in recent years, with the amount of youth-rated smoke-free movies doubling from 2002 to 2014, going from 32 to 64 percent, the CDC explained.
Dr. Armando Perguda of the WHO told The Mirror that it was the 2013-2014 movie season when there was "a turning point — a picking up of the number of tobacco scenes."
Since that time, though, some organizations have worked hard to add warning labels to films. Most of which has been through volunteer efforts, which the WHO deemed as not enough, saying that "more can and must be done."
So far, China has banned "excessive" smoking scenes from its films, while India has added new rules that ban tobacco brand display from films and television, the WHO report said.
And in America, The Motion Picture Association of America, which distributes ratings to all studio-made films, has a "smoking label" that should be attached to films with smoking. But almost all (about 88 percent) of films with smoking don't add the label, the CDC reported.
It wouldn't be surprising then for the MPAA to follow the WHO's guidelines and make movies with smoking an R-rated film. After all, research has found that doing so would reduce teen smokers by almost 20 percent and would prevent close to 1 million tobacco related deaths.
"Because smoking on screen is uniquely vivid and because young people see so many films so often, its effect in promoting smoking initiation is striking," the report said. "The most vulnerable age group, adolescents, should not continue to be exposed to the most powerful promotional channel for smoking imagery available in today's globalized economy."