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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Disney pledges to cut out smoking
Robert Iger at the Paris launch of Ratatouille
Robert A Iger became chief executive of Disney in 2005
The Disney Studio has pledged to remove smoking from its family-oriented films.

The media giant's chief executive Robert A Iger said depictions of smoking in future Disney-branded films would be "non-existent".

And smoking will be "discouraged" in films aimed at adults released under its Touchstone and Miramax banners.

Mr Iger made the promise in a letter to US congressman Edward Markey. DVDs that show cigarettes will also carry anti-smoking announcements, he added.

Mr Markey described the move as "groundbreaking" and commended Mr Iger for "this important commitment".

We hope it's the beginning of a domino effect as other studios come into line
Martin Dockrell
Anti-smoking group Ash
"I am pleased that Disney is embracing a policy that is consistent with the long-term public health of the nation," he said.

"Now it's time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney's lead."

Mr Markey, chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, recently held a hearing on the images children see on screen.

He used it to call on media companies to join the anti-smoking effort. In his letter, Mr Iger said the Walt Disney Company shared his concern.

Martin Dockrell, a spokesman for UK anti-smoking group Ash, called the move "a really important first step".

Removing these kinds of incentives is enormously important
Ellen Vargya
The American Legacy Foundation
"We hope it's the beginning of a domino effect as other studios come into line," he told the BBC News website.

US anti-tobacco organisation The American Legacy Foundation said the announcement was "a good, solid step".

"The research is very clear that images of smoking in the media are a very large recruiter of teen smokers," the organisation's general counsel Ellen Vargya said.

"They have a very powerful impact, accounting for close to 400,000 youth smokers a year. So removing these kinds of incentives is enormously important."

Smoking has been rarely shown in Disney's family-oriented films in recent years, although the company has not always been so health-conscious.

In 1961's One Hundred and One Dalmatians, for example, the villainous Cruella De Vil is rarely seen without a cigarette holder in her mouth.

In May, the Motion Picture Association of America, the US film ratings board, pledged to take smoking into account when classifying movies.

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