OLYMPIA -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire today joined 24 other AGs around the country in urging the film industry to help reduce youth tobacco consumption by cutting the amount of smoking depicted in movies.
In a letter to Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, the attorneys general cited a recent Dartmouth Medical School study that suggested cutting images of cigarette smoking in motion pictures could significantly reduce the number of youth who begin to smoke.
According to the study, children aged 10-14 who watched the highest amount of smoking in movies were almost three times more likely to start smoking than children who watched the least amount of smoking in movies.
Gregoire noted that the states' nationwide settlement with major tobacco companies in 1998 has raised millions of dollars for effective anti-tobacco advertising campaigns aimed at youth. "The movie industry now has a golden opportunity to support that effort by reducing the amount of on-screen smoking by actors and actresses who serve as powerful role models for kids."
The letter from the attorneys general noted that smoking accounts for over 400,000 American deaths a year-more than the deaths caused by alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. While smoking rates among youth have declined, the attorneys general said they remain disheartened that an estimated 2,000 young people become new smokers every day.
In their letter, the AGs said the motion picture industry is "uniquely situated" to bring about sweeping change to prevent youth smoking. They urged Valenti, who has shown leadership in protecting youth from violence in the media, to rally the motion industry "from being a source of the problem to being recognized as a critically important force in solving the nation's deadly problem of youth smoking."
The letter follows a resolution by the National Association of Attorneys General in 1998 asking the motion picture industry to voluntarily review the use of tobacco products in film.