Our rating system


Our staff has developed a form to rate movies looking only at tobacco use.  You can use this form to report the amount and type of tobacco use in movies that is known to sway kids and teenagers.

Below is an explanation our form.  The notes explain why each category is important.  We have also tried to give you more details on each answer in order to keep the scores accurate and consistent.

We hope that you will use this system to review films that you see in the theater, on video, or on DVD.  We encourage you to fax the completed forms to us at 877-878-4755, email your results to us at bhummel@quitdoc.com, or simply enter the data electronically by clicking here.


A Detailed Look at the SmokeScreeners Ratings System  

Use by actors:   The actors seen smoking in movies can influence teenagers.

So, to score a film for tobacco use, you must answer the following question:  Which actors/actresses were seen smoking in the film?  Here, you will count up the number of actors that smoke in each category.  You assign a score based on the most prominent category of actors seen smoking in the film: 

(0) No actors smoked
(1) Non credited extras smoked (actors not listed in credits)
(2) Credited non-stars smoked (actors listed in end credits)
(3) One of the film’s Stars smoked (actors listed in opening credits)

The maximum score for this category is 3 points. 


Extent of tobacco use:  Studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between the amount of movie smoking to which teenagers are exposed and the likelihood that they will begin smoking (Sargent et al, 2002; Dalton et al,2003; Sargent et al, 2005). The main reason seems to be that the amount of fictionalized smoking causes adults and adolescents to overestimate the amount of smoking in real life.  It makes the activity seem more normal.

To account for this factor, we have to ask:  How many incidents of smoking were depicted in the film?  For our purposes, an “incident” will be defined as use by a single character in a single scene.  If three individuals smoke in a single scene, that is three incidents; if one character smokes in three different scenes, that is also three incidents.  The following points will be assigned based on the total number of incidents:

(0) 0 Incidents
(1) 1-9 Incidents
(2) 10-20 Incidents
(3) 20> Incidents


Perceived message: You will have to make a judgment call as you answer the following question:  Did the smoking scenes seem to be for or against tobacco use?

(0) No use, use only by extras, or Anti-Tobacco (clear anti-tobacco message)
(1) Balanced (pros and cons of tobacco use are discussed)
(2) Neutral (tobacco use is present but not discussed)
(3) Pro-tobacco (clear pro-tobacco message)          


Where people smoke:  You will need to keep track of the number and locations of smoking episodes and answer the following question:  Did the smoking scenes occur indoors or outdoors?  Here you will circle the worst category that applies and assign the appropriate number of points:

(0) Nowhere (no smoking appears in the film)
(1) Outside (smoking only occurs outside)
(2) Inside with a maximum of 5 incidents (any indoor smoking in less than 5 distinct scenes)
(3) Inside with 6 or more incidents (indoor smoking in 6 or more distinct scenes)


Negative Special circumstances:  (Add 3 additional points if any of the following situations were seen in the film):

  • Tobacco use by young people obviously under 18 years old
  • Tobacco use around children or pregnant women
  • Tobacco use in a normally accepted non-smoking area such as a school, medical facility or designated non-smoking area
  • Specific, obvious brand depiction

Positive Special circumstances:  (Subtract 3 points if any of the following situations were seen in the film):

  • If the Tobacco use dramatically and realistically depicts negative aspects of tobacco use (For example: Person dies of lung cancer from smoking)
  • If the tobacco use accurately represents the smoking behavior of an actual (as opposed to fictional) historical figure.


Barry Hummel., Jr., MD, FAAP

Through his work in the film industry, Dr. Hummel became the Research Coordinator for the Blue Planet Marine Research Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by James Cameron. In addition to his research responsibilities, Dr. Hummel edited and published the organization’s newsletter and produced several documentaries about the work of the foundation.

Website: www.quitdoc.com