Amy Ryan
July 27, 2007 AT 04:01 AM EDT

I’m not convinced that Disney’s announcement that it’s banning depictions of smoking from future Walt Disney Pictures family films is such a good thing. Yes, kids shouldn’t be encouraged to smoke. And Yes, Disney’s move may have helped keep both Congress and the MPAA ratings board (whom anti-smoking advocates are lobbying to include smoking alongside sex and profanity as elements that make a movie unsuitable for kids) from stepping in to regulate movie content. (At least, for a while.) But I fear that this concession to pressure will embolden activists with all kinds of axes to grind to lean on Hollywood to ban all kinds of supposedly unacceptable content. And not just from future films; will Disney now go back and airbrush out Cruella DeVil’s cigarette holder (pictured) from all prints of 101 Dalmatians? Will they purge the peace pipe from Peter Pan (while keeping all the rest of the patronizing and embarrassing Indian stereotyping)? Will they erase from the face of the earth this classic, tobacco-fueled Goofy short? (Hat tip to Advertising Age.) Tell me, PopWatchers, am I being alarmist, or is freedom of expression in Hollywood going up in… you know?

addCredit(“101 Dalmatians: Everett Collection”)

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