Rango smokes up the box office

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is fuming over the latest animation flick Rango, featuring the voice of Johnny Depp as a desert town chameleon, stating that the depiction of smoking in the PG-rated movie will encourage younger audiences to think the habit is appealing. Multiple characters, including Rango’s two sidekicks, a toad and fox, use cigars and a long cigarette holder in the film, while Rango himself swallows a cigar and breathes fire in the face of a villain during one scene.

While not suggesting that smoking should be banned from films or that movies with smoking should automatically be rated R, the AAP is saying that Paramount Pictures, the producer of Rango, showed a lack of good judgment. The AAP insists that the references to smoking could easily have been omitted since they are not integral to the plot line, but instead may have the harmful effect of influencing kids to view tobacco more positively. Similar concerns were raised in 2009 when the scientist played by Sigourney Weaver in the smash hit Avatar also smoked for no apparent plot-derived reason.

While ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross believes that smoking in movies doesn’t necessarily encourage children to smoke, he thinks that “in specific circumstances, such as an animated film in which admirable characters are seen smoking, the wrong message is clearly being sent. I think in this movie, that behavior denotes poor judgment by Paramount.”