Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

letter signed by 38 state and territorial Attorneys General, including Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, today urges 10 movie studios to adopt policies to eliminate tobacco depictions in youth-rated movies. A news release by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) explains:

This 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 been concerned about smoking in movies since at least 1998, when NAAG adopted a resolution calling on the industry to reduce tobacco depictions in feature films. That year, the groundbreaking Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) also addressed one aspect of smoking in movies, prohibiting paid product placements. However, smoking in movies has remained a negative influence on young people.

“Movies have a powerful impact on teens, which is why product-placement ads in feature films are sought after,” McKenna said. “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 provides specific steps studios can take to reduce the harm of portraying tobacco products, including:

[A]dopting 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.

The letter was sent to the heads of companies that don’t have published tobacco policies:

  • 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

A copy of the NAAG letter and the list of executives it was sent to, can be found here: http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php