Disney to Cut Smoking in Family Films

The Walt Disney Co. will eliminate smoking from all its films released under its label and will discourage smoking in films released under its Touchstone and Miramax brands, the company said Wednesday.

Disney chief executive Robert Iger made the pledge in a letter to U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass, chairman of the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, who last month held a hearing in Washington, D.C., on the topic.

"The Walt Disney Co. shares your concern regarding deaths due to cigarette smoking," Iger wrote.

Iger also said that a public service announcement will be included on any DVD of a film that includes smoking and that the company would encourage theater owners to show an anti-smoking message before screening films that depict characters lighting up.

Universal Pictures said it instituted a policy to reduce smoking in youth-oriented films in April, but did not announce it publicly until Wednesday.

The studio said it will include a health warning along with films that include smoking.

"We believe it's possible to do that while respecting filmmakers' creative choices and we are committed to partnering with them in this effort," Universal Studios chairman Ron Meyer said Wednesday.

In May, the Motion Picture Association of America said it would begin considering smoking as a factor in rating films.

Markey praised Disney's decision.

"Now it's time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney's lead," Markey said.