August 26, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
WRITES TO MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION
CALLING FOR REDUCTION IN MOVIE SMOKING
Attorneys General Sign Curran's Letter in Support of the Effort
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that he has sent a
letter signed by 24 other
Attorneys General, calling for a reduction in smoking in the movies.
Citing a recent Dartmouth
College study finding that a reduction in the prevalence of
cigarette smoking in movies could drastically decrease the initiation
of smoking in youth, Attorney General Curran urges the president
of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti, "to
effect what could be one of the most far-reaching benefits on public
health in our generation."
Describing the motion picture industry as "uniquely situated
to bring about sweeping change to prevent youth smoking," Curran
asks Valenti to rally the industry to move 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."
important appeal asks the motion picture industry to more positively
use the its influence over the choices our young people make,"
Attorney General Curran said. "Reducing the depiction of smoking
in movies will require bold action, but we believe the industry
shares our goal of protecting the health of children and, therefore,
is up to the task."
June, a research team from the Dartmouth Medical School published
what is being called the broadest research to date, scientific evidence
that exposure to smoking in movies has a significant impact on youth
initiation of smoking. The study, funded by the National Cancer
Institute, was conducted by Dr. Madeline Dalton and a team of researchers.
Their research reveals that the children, ages 10-14, who watched
the highest amount of smoking in movies were nearly three times
more likely to start smoking than those children who watched the
least amount of smoking in movies.
recognizing the need for further study, the researchers offered
the following insight: "The effect of exposure to movie smoking
is important, both because the effect on smoking initiation is moderately
strong and because the exposure is almost universal. Based on the
lists of 50 randomly selected movies, less than one percent of the
participants were unexposed to movie smoking. If the link between
exposure to smoking in movies and smoking initiation proves to be
casual, our data suggest that eliminating adolescents' exposure
to movie smoking could reduce smoking initiation by half."
Attorney General Bill Lockyer on June 11, 2003, sent a letter to
Valenti and major studio heads urging them to help address this
critical public health problem. To date, Lockyer has not received
a response from either Valenti or the studios.
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. The resolution,
citing tobacco-related illnesses and deaths caused by underage smoking,
called upon 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; and to consider establishing
and maintaining public education programs and other activities specifically
designed to discourage children from ever using tobacco and tobacco
smoking rates have declined in recent years, teens continue to smoke
at an unacceptable rate: almost 90 percent of current adult smokers
began as teens and 28.5 percent of all high school students smoke,
with an estimated 2,000 minors becoming new daily smokers every
From the landmark settlement with the tobacco industry to negotiated
agreements on best sales practices with industry giants like BP
Amoco, Walgreens and ExxonMobil, Attorney General Curran has made
reducing youth smoking a priority of his administration.
state/territory attorneys general signing on to Curran's letter
are the attorneys general of: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, N. Mariana Islands, Minnesota,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington,
and West Virginia.