Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Wednesday, November 16, 2005.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Miller and AGs ask Hollywood to Take Action to Reduce Youth Smoking

AGs ask movie studios to add anti-smoking messages to DVDs and videos,
and to reduce youth exposure to smoking depictions in movies.

DES MOINES.   Armed with a new study that demonstrates that "exposure to movie smoking has a strong association with smoking initiation" by adolescents, thirty-two state attorneys general are challenging Hollywood movie studios to reduce smoking depictions in movies - and to include an anti-smoking PSA announcement on all videos and DVDs with movies that depict smoking. The AGs' appeal is contained in a new letter to top executives of ten movie studios.

"We are telling the movie industry about a new study released last week that shows our appeal is urgent," Attorney General Tom Miller said. "The study demonstrates that adolescents with the greatest exposure to depictions of smoking in movies are almost three times more likely to try smoking than their peers who viewed the fewest smoking depictions in movies," he said.

The study, which was reported Nov. 7 in the journal Pediatrics, was conducted by the Dartmouth Medical School with National Cancer Institute funding. It is the first to determine the effects of viewing smoking in movies on a nationally representative sample of youth in the U.S.

"We also know that airing an anti-smoking PSA reduces the effects on youths who view smoking in movies," Miller said. "That's why we are asking the movie studios to include such an announcement on all the movies they sell on video, DVD, and other new disc formats."

The AGs' letter said a new anti-smoking PSA is being prepared for use in movie theaters and for videos and DVDs and other formats. The PSA is expected to be available in January.

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Background:

The letter to movie studios was signed by 32 attorneys general representing: AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, HA, IA, ID, IL, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MS, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VT, WA, WI, WV, and the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands.

The letter went to top executives of ten studios: The Walt Disney Company, Fox Filmed Entertainment, Dreamworks, MGM Pictures, Miramax Films, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Brothers Studios.

The Attorney Generals' letter says the anti-smoking PSA is being produced to run in theaters across the country by the American Legacy Foundation, funded with money from the states' 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The AGs also ask studios to insert the PSA in movies they distribute in which smoking is depicted, on DVD, video and other home viewing formats (such as Universal Media Discs, "UMDs.")

 

State AGs for the past two years have been meeting and talking with the movie studios and other members of the movie industry, providing access to scientists who have studied the impact of movie smoking on youth, and seeking industry cooperation in eliminating tobacco brand appearances and reducing youth exposure to smoking depictions in movies. 

The new Dartmouth study is reported in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics -- "Exposure to Movie Smoking: Its Relation to Smoking Initiation Among U.S. Adolescents," (available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/ ) The research studied 6522 children.

The Attorney Generals' letter cited the researchers' conclusion:

"[T]his study demonstrates, in a nationally representative U.S. sample of young adolescents, that exposure to movie smoking has a strong association with smoking initiation and that the association holds within broad racial and ethnic categories and regardless of where the adolescent resides. Our study suggests that exposure to movie smoking is a primary independent risk factor, accounting for smoking initiation among over one-third of U.S. adolescents age 10-14 years of age, and provides additional scientific support for public health programs aimed at reducing adolescent exposure to move smoking."

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