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For Immediate Release
May 10, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN TO TESTIFY TO SENATE ON IMPACT OF SMOKING IN THE MOVIES ON CHILDREN

UPDATE: Read Attorney General Curran's testimony from the hearing.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announces today that he has been invited by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to testify on his recent findings regarding smoking in the movies and its effect on children. The hearing is scheduled for May 11, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. The hearing can be viewed live though the senate’s webcast: http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/witnesslist.cfm?id=1186

In August of 2003, Attorney General Curran sent a letter signed by 27 other Attorneys General calling for a reduction in smoking in the movies. Citing a 2003 Dartmouth College study finding that a reduction in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in movies could drastically decrease the initiation of smoking in youth, Mr. Curran urged 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.” Since that time Attorney General Curran has met with Mr. Valenti, members of both the Directors Guild of America and the National Association of Theater Owners, and production executives from the seven major studios. “I think we have all been educated about what a dramatic effect smoking in the movies has on children,” says Mr. Curran. “Now we need to come up with a plan on how to make significant changes to the proliferation of smoking scenes in movies. If 80% of adult smokers today started as minors, then today’s minors are the ones we must reach with an anti-smoking message now.”

The 1998 Tobacco Litigation Master Settlement Agreement that resolved Maryland's and other state lawsuits against the tobacco industry prohibits the tobacco companies from paying for or authorizing the placement of cigarettes and cigarette brand names in movies. In spite of this prohibition, Curran points to the persistence of cigarette brands in movies. "Because the tobacco companies deny any role in these brand appearances, we are looking to the movie industry to help us achieve the full benefit of the tobacco settlement by eliminating brand appearances in movies."

From the landmark settlement with the tobacco industry to negotiated settlements on best sales practices with industry giants like BP Amoco, Walgreens, ExxonMobil and Walmart, Attorney General Curran has made reducing youth smoking a priority of his office.

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