Disney bans smoking in all future films including Star Wars and Marvel Comics

Historical characters will be excepted from the new rule but it was unclear whether existing book characters would be exempt

Marvel and Star Wars characters may no longer be able to smoke as Disney bans cigarettes in all of its future films, whether animation or live action.

Bob Iger, Walt Disney’s chairman and CEO, revealed the move at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, where the development of Frozen 2 was confirmed along with details of two upcoming Star Wars films.

An investor asked him what the studio was doing to safeguard children against smoking, claiming that 43 per cent of films in Marvel comic book franchises show characters lighting up.

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Marvel's latest poster for its forthcoming movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Captain America was a smoker in the early comics but dropped his habit

Mr Iger said he was committed to expanding Disney’s existing policy, which dates back to 2007, to apply to all subsidiaries.

“We are extending our policy to prohibit smoking in movies across the board: Marvel, Lucas, Pixar and Disney films,” he added.

“Except when we are depicting a historical figure who may have smoked at the time of his life.

“For instance, if we were doing a movie on Abraham Lincoln, he was a smoker, and we would consider that acceptable.

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Disney owns Lucasfilms, makers of the three new Star Wars films

“But in terms of any new characters that are created for any of those films, under any of those labels, we will absolutely prohibit smoking in any of those films.”

It was unclear whether existing characters from previous films, books or comics would have the ban enforced, such as in upcoming Marvel Studios or Star Wars films.

Disney’s current policy limits smoking in films below a “restricted” rating in America, roughly equivalent to a UK 15 or 18 certificate, to scenes where it is “part of the historical, biographical or cultural context”, important to a character or portrayed in an “unfavourable light”.

Even “good” characters smoked in its classic cartoons, including Peter Pan, Pinocchio and Dumbo’s friend Jim Crow, who has already been slammed by modern critics as a racist stereotype.

Smoking is now rare films in made by Disney and its subsidiaries, although the character of Absolom the caterpillar – voiced by Alan Rickman – held onto his hookah in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland remake in 2010.

Additional reporting by PA

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