(DES MOINES, Iowa) In a letter signed by 38 state and territorial attorneys general, Attorney General Tom Miller urged ten movie studios to adopt published policies to eliminate tobacco depictions in youth-rated movies.
“It’s no secret that movies can influence children. When young people see actors glorifying smoking in youth-rated movies, that’s a terrible message that Hollywood sends to our children,” Miller said. “These studios can and should stop targeting kids with a very harmful message that smoking is cool.”
This bipartisan effort follows the March 8 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, which states that “[t]he evidence is sufficient to conclude that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people.”
Attorneys general have spoken out about smoking in movies since at least 1998, when the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) adopted a resolution calling on the industry to reduce tobacco depictions in feature films.
Miller was a leader in the 1998 $206 billion multistate Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) that resulted in the tobacco industry paying billions of dollars to the states, including an estimated $1.7 billion to Iowa. The agreement also addressed one aspect of smoking in movies, prohibiting paid product placements. However, smoking in movies has remained a negative influence on young people.
“This is a colossal, preventable tragedy,” reads the May 8 letter. “There are specific, meaningful steps your studio can and should take to reduce this harm substantially.”
These are: adopting published corporate policies that provide for the elimination of tobacco depictions in youth-rated movies; including effective anti-tobacco spots on all future DVDs and Blu-ray videos of films that depict smoking; certifying in the closing credits of all future motion picture releases with tobacco imagery that no payoffs were made in connection with any tobacco depictions and; keeping all future movies free of tobacco brand display, both packaging and promotional collateral.
“A point we made to studios nearly five years ago bears repeating: each time the industry releases another movie that depicts smoking, it does so with the full knowledge of the harm it will bring to children who watch it,” the NAAG letter reads.
Disney, Time Warner and Comcast (Universal) have adopted written policies designed to reduce the amount of smoking in their films.
Companies without published tobacco policies
The May 8, 2012 NAAG letter about movie studios stopping depictions of smoking in youth-rated movies was sent to:
- Rupert Murdoch, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation
- Howard Stringer, Chair, CEO and President, Sony Corporation
- Sumner Redstone, Chair, Viacom, Inc.
- Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation
- Stacey Snider, Principal Partner, Co-Chair and CEO; Steven Spielberg, Principal Partner and Co-Chair, DreamWorks Studios
- Jon Feltheimer, Co-Chair and CEO; Harald Ludwig, Co-Chair, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
- Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, Relativity Media, LLC
- Robert Friedman, Co-Chair and CEO; Patrick Wachsberger, Co-Chair and President, Summit Entertainment, LLC
- Bob Weinstein, Co-Chair; Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chair, The Weinstein Company, LLC
- Todd Wagner, Co-Owner and CEO; Mark Cuban, Co-Owner, 2929 Entertainment LP
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