Attorneys General have been urging the film industry
to reduce kids’ exposure to smoking on screen.
They have been involved in the issue of smoking in the
movies since at least the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement,
which they negotiated with domestic tobacco companies,
to end tobacco promotion aimed at young people, including
AGs’ concern has grown over the years, along with
evidence that smoking in movies is a major reason
that adolescents start to smoke. But the film industry
has failed to take any substantial action.
| Twenty-seven Attorneys General wrote
the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) expressing
concern about the growth of smoking in the movies and
its effects on teens.
| Thirty-two AGs wrote
the studios urging them to include an anti-smoking ad
on any DVD of a movie that included smoking.
| Forty-one AGs again wrote
the studios (and MPAA) renewing their call for anti-smoking
ads on any DVD or movie that included smoking. To make
it easy, they included three Truth® advertisements
by the American Legacy Foundation that the studios could
use at no cost. Only The Weinstein Company accepted
5, 2006 | MPAA CEO Dan Glickman wrote
the Attorneys General that the MPAA had invited recommendations
from the Harvard School of Public Health and would work
to "gain consensus" among its member studios
to implement them.
23, 2007 | Consistent with Smoke Free Movies'
policy solutions, Harvard recommended
that the MPAA "take substantive and effective action
to eliminate the depiction of tobacco smoking from films
accessible to children and youths..."
1, 2007 | Thirty-one AGs followed up with another
letter to the studios containing the strongest language
time a member of the industry releases another movie
that depicts smoking, it does so with the full knowledge
of the harm it will bring to children who watch it...
the depiction of tobacco smoking from films accessible
to children and youth. There is simply no justification
for further delay.
actual letters to Disney,
Company, the MPAA,
Organization of Theatre Owners (NATO), the Directors
Guild of America, Screen
Actors Guild, and Writers
10, 2007 | With much fanfare, the MPAA announces
that it will “consider” tobacco imagery
in the ratings starting immediately. However, for the
goal of eliminating tobacco content in movies accessible
to young people, it substitutes another: merely informing
parents — the sort of “fig leaf” that
Harvard had specifically warned against.
health organizations quickly denounce the MPAA’s
placebo policy. They pledge to keep pressing for the
“R” rating and other measures that can substantially
and permanently reduce adolescent exposure. (The statements
from the American
Medical Association, American
Heart Association, American
Legacy Foundation, and Campaign
for Tobacco Free Kids were typical.)
5, 2007 | Vermont
AG William H. Sorrell, a leader amongst a group of 32
state AGs who have pressured the MPAA, writes
the MPAA to tell them that:
we reserve judgement on whether your proposal,
which falls short of the recommendations you sought
and recieved from the Harvard School of Public Health,
will in actual practice have a dramatic impact on
the incidence of youth viewing of smoking in the movies.
for prompt reports on the impacts of the MPAA's tobacco
rating policy monthly or bimonthly; detail exactly how
the MPAA's announced rating policy would have affected
treatment of the U.S. film industry's releases over
recent years; and explain gross differences between
the MPAA's movie smoking statistics and numbers compiled
from publicly available sources.
18, 2007 |
The MPAA responds to Attorney General Sorrell, offering
a meeting instead of answering his questions; Sorrell
asks the MPAA to respond in writing to the questions
before any meeting. He requests a written reply by September
16, 2007 |The
to answer the Attorney General's questions.
16, 2007 |
Attorney General Sorrell writes
the MPAA's Glickman declining his offer of a meeting
because of MPAA's failure to provide "information
to help us evaluate the impact of the new MPAA rating
system. He also reminds Glickman that, "We had
hoped that the MPAA and its member studios would follow
the Harvard School of Public Health recommendation [solicited
by the MPAA] that depictions of tobacco smoking be eliminated
fro films accessible to children and youth."
2, 2009 |
Attorney General Sorrell sends a letter
directly to the CEOs of the major media companies that
own the studios, as well as to large independent distributors
Lionsgate and Weinstein. He critiques the MPAA's rating
failure; cites new evidence that exposure to on-screen
smoking causes teens to become addicted smokers; applauds
2008 agreements to show anti-tobacco
spots on DVDs with smoking; and recommends one studio's
certification of "due diligence affirming that
was received in exchange for any tobacco depiction."
General Sorrell again urges all studios to "eliminate
the depiction of tobacco use from films accessible to
8, 2012 |
Thirty-eight state and territorial Attorneys General
write the CEOs of the media companies that have no published
policy on movie smoking, including News Corp. (Fox),
Sony, and Viacom (Paramount). Citing the US Surgeon
General's March 2012 report,
the state AGs declare the toll from movie smoking "a
colossal, preventable tragedy." The specific steps
they request companies to take are: to eliminate smoking
from future youth-rated movies; add "effective"
anti-tobacco spots to movies with smoking, regardless
of rating; certify no payoffs for tobacco depictions;
and end tobacco brand display on screen. (Press
release and sample
Please take a moment to write Attorney Generals who signed the letter; their contact information is here.
May 10, 2012