OLYMPIA -- Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that he is asking Hollywood's major motion picture studios to insert anti-smoking public service announcements in all DVDs and videos in which smoking is depicted.
McKenna and attorneys general in 31 other states sent letters to executives at Disney, Dreamworks, Fox, MGM, Miramax, New Line, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.
“A recent study that found that adolescents with the greatest exposure to smoking in movies were almost three times more likely to try smoking than their peers in the least exposed group,” McKenna said. “As a father of four, I’m aware of how the glamour of Hollywood can impact children’s perceptions of the world. We certainly don’t want our children receiving conflicting messages about the dangers of smoking.”
The study, which appeared in the Nov. 7 edition of Pediatrics journal, was conducted by the Dartmouth Medical School with funding from the National Cancer Institute. It is the first study to determine the effects of viewing smoking in movies on a representative sample of youth in the United States.
McKenna’s letter also notes that an anti-smoking Public Service Announcement (PSA) currently is being produced by the American Legacy Foundation, funded with money from the states' 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), to run in theaters across this country.
Citing the scientific evidence that airing an anti-smoking PSA lessens the effects on youth from viewing movie smoking, McKenna told the studios that they "can dramatically increase the number of young people who will receive that anti-smoking message by attaching it to DVD, video and other home viewing format movies (such as Universal Media Discs, "UMDs")" where smoking is depicted.
" For the past two years, attorneys general across the nation have been working with the movie studios and other members of the movie industry to provide them firsthand access to the scientists who have studied the impact of movie smoking on youth and to encourage them to eliminate tobacco brand appearances and to reduce youth exposure to smoking depictions in movies,” McKenna said. “Now, we have this anti-smoking PSA created by the experts and the compelling data from the latest study about the impact of glamorizing smoking in movies.
“Given the increasing number of movies on DVDs, videos and now UMDs, the timing is right to ask each of the studios to take this specific action to help protect kids from the effects of viewing smoking in the movies they watch at home,” McKenna said.
In 1998, the National Association of Attorneys General passed a resolution asking actors and actresses and the motion picture industry to take steps to reduce use of tobacco by children under 18.
Citing tobacco-related illnesses and deaths caused by underage smoking, the resolution urged members of the motion picture industry to voluntarily review the use of cigars and cigarettes in film to eliminate or reduce use of tobacco and tobacco products. It also urged them to consider establishing and maintaining public education programs and other activities specifically designed to discourage children from ever using tobacco and tobacco products.
Attorneys General from the following states signed the letters:
8. District of Columbia
18. New Jersey
19. New Mexico
20. New York
21. Northern Mariana Islands
26. Rhode Island
32. West Virginia
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725.