Eliminate smoking in youth-rated movies.
That’s the message Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and 37 other state and territorial attorneys general are sending to movie studio executives.
The attorneys general sent a letter to 10 movie studios last week, urging them to adopt policies to eliminate tobacco depictions in films rated G, PG and PG-13.
The letter comes on the heels of a March 8 Surgeon General’s report, “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” which found “the 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.”
The letter also cites national surveys that indicate about 44 percent of smoking teens can be attributed to their exposure to onscreen depictions of smoking. That translates to more than 1 million adolescents ages 12 to 17, according to the attorneys general.
This isn’t the first time attorneys general have tackled tobacco products in movies.
In 1998, the National Association of Attorneys General adopted a resolution calling on the movie industry to reduce tobacco depictions in feature films. That same year, the Master Settlement Agreement prohibited paid product placements.
“Movies have a powerful impact on teens, which is why product-placement ads in feature films are sought after,” McKenna said in a news release. “We hope that the film studios think more about the allure they’re creating—even unintentionally—around tobacco. It has a substantial and negative impact on kids.”
The letter from state attorneys general also asked the studios to:
-Adopt published policies eliminating tobacco depictions in youth-rated movies.
-Include anti-tobacco spots on all DVDs and Blu-ray videos of films that depict smoking. -Certify in the closing credits that no payoffs were made in connection with any tobacco depiction.
-Keep all future movies free of tobacco brand display.
What do you think? Do tobacco depictions belong in youth-rated movies?