Important step for anti-smoking efforts
The Motion Picture Association of America, which makes recommendations on the suitability of movies for young viewers, has now decided to include smoking alongside violence and sex in its ratings. (Here's a NYTimes article.) Even though the prevalence of smoking portrayed in movies has come down a bit in the past few years (under lots of pressure from anti-smoking advocates, as was this ruling, for sure), there are still lots of films in which smoking is portrayed as glamorous, sexy, or appealing in some ways.
I don't want to be too cynical here, but I do question whether giving a movie an R rating actually keeps (younger) teens from seeing it, or whether it actually increases its allure, and hence the exposure. Particularly now, in the DVD era, I imagine it's a lot easier for teens to have access to forbidden stuff. But that's just a guess, and a different question.
On the whole, I think the new rules are a good thing, particularly as they increase awareness of the issue.