December 17, 2003
INDUSTRY WILLING TO ADDRESS YOUTH SMOKING CONCERNS
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that entertainment
industry executives are willing to work cooperatively to address
the growing public health concern of depictions of smoking in the
movies, following a meeting with industry representatives and state
Attorney General Curran was joined by the Attorneys General of California,
Connecticut, Vermont, and Utah in discussions to educate movie and
television directors about the major consequences of glamorizing
smoking in the movies and gratuitous smoking in the movies - one
of the major public health problems in America.
The Attorneys General met today in Los Angeles with members of the
Directors Guild of America's Social Responsibility Task Force, the
President of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti,
and production executives of the seven major studios. The Attorneys
General expressed concern that under the 1998 historic tobacco Master
Settlement Agreement, tobacco companies may not pay to have their
products appear in film. However, recent studies have show that
there continues to be the appearance of glamorizing smoking and
the appearance of cigarette brand names in film and television.
Maryland Attorney General Curran said, "We have made significant
progress today in educating directors and studio production executives
about the significant public health risks inherent in youth smoking
from exposure to depictions of smoking in movies. Today's historic
event was the first step in what I hope will be a continuing and
important dialogue to prevent the deadly problem of youth smoking."
In an August 26, 2003 letter signed by 28 Attorneys General sent
to Mr. Valenti, Attorney General Curran cited the Dartmouth study
finding that a reduction in the prevalence of cigarette smoking
in movies could drastically decrease the initiation of smoking in
In 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, even after controlling for other factors
that might influence smoking, that the children, ages 10-14, who
watched the highest amount of smoking in movies were more than two-and-a-half
times more likely to start smoking than those children who watched
the least amount of smoking in movies. The researchers also noted
that exposure to movie smoking is "almost universal" among
adolescents. While recognizing the need for further study, the researchers
found that their "data suggests that eliminating adolescents'
exposure to movie smoking could reduce smoking by half."
Dr. Dalton presented her findings to those in attendance at the
request of the Attorneys General and Mr. Valenti.
"Reducing the depiction of gratuitous smoking in movies will
require bold action, but we believe the movie industry shares our
goal of protecting the health of children and, therefore, is up
to the task," Attorney General Curran said. An estimated 2,000
minors become new smokers every day and more than 80 percent of
adult smokers today began as minors.
From the landmark settlement with the tobacco industry to negotiated
settlements on best sales practices with industry giants like BP
Amoco, Walgreens, ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart, Attorney General Curran
has made reducing youth smoking a priority of his administration.