Tob Control doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050023
  • Research paper

Movies with smoking make less money

  1. Jonathan R Polansky2
  1. 1Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Onbeyond LLC, Fairfax, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stanton A Glantz, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390, USA; glantz{at}
  1. Contributors JRP collected the data. SAG did the statistical analysis. Both authors collaborated to prepare and revise the manuscript.

  • Received 15 April 2011
  • Accepted 25 August 2011
  • Published Online First 26 September 2011


Objective To determine the relationship between presence of smoking in films and total box office receipts.

Methods Regression analysis of box office receipts as a function of film rating, production budget, year of release and presence of smoking for 1232 films released in the USA between 2002 and 2010.

Results R-rated films made, on average, 87% (95% CI 83% to 90%) of what PG-13 films of similar smoking status made and smoking films made 87% (95% CI 79% to 96%) of what comparably rated smoke-free films made. Larger budget films made more money. There was no significant effect of release year or G/PG rating compared with PG-13-rated movies.

Conclusions Because PG-13 films without smoking (median $48.6 million) already make 41% more money at the box office than R-rated movies with smoking (median $34.4 million), implementing an R rating for smoking to remove it from youth-rated films will not conflict with the economic self-interest of producer-distributors.


  • Funding This work was supported by the Legacy Foundation. The funding agency played no role in the selection of the research question, the conduct of the research or preparation of the manuscript. SAG is American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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