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A spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America had not seen the study, but said all of its members have taken steps to diminish smoking on screen. Since 2007, all put anti-smoking messages on movie DVDs, and smoking has been a factor in the rating of films.
"Everyone agrees it's a problem that the industry should not be encouraging or glamorizing," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman.
Two examples of the rating in practice from last year: Smoking was mentioned for the PG ratings for "Furry Vengeance" -- a man was briefly shown smoking a cigar -- and "Alice in Wonderland" -- a smoking caterpillar.
Under a long-standing agreement between tobacco companies and state attorneys general, cigarette makers are prohibited from paying filmmakers to place tobacco products in movies. Tobacco companies say sometimes movie directors or producers use their products without asking permission.
The researchers also questioned the tax credits or rebates states offer to lure movie studios. They said 15 states last year subsidized top-grossing films that had tobacco use in them, at a cost of $288 million.
"We believe not a penny of tax money should be going to help sell cigarettes to kids," said the lead author, Stan Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.
The study was funded by Legacy, an anti-tobacco non-profit group, and released by a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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