State attorneys general

State Attorneys General have been involved in the issue of smoking in the movies since before the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which they negotiated with domestic tobacco companies to end tobacco promotion aimed at young people, including product placement in movies and TV shows.

Attorneys General from dozens of states have now asked the US film industry to eliminate smoking from youth-rated films. When the MPAA failed to substantiate claims about its ratings of films with tobacco imagery, the AGs began communicating with the film studios and their parent companies directly. 

Map showing states whose AGs signed a 2012 letter to US media companies about movie smoking

Attorneys general for states highlighted in blue signed the 2012 letter to America's largest media companies. Also signing: AGs for American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Washington, DC.

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In 2012, thirty-eight state AGs listed four 'specific, meaningful' steps that America's leading media companies and their film subsidiaries 'can and should take to reduce this harm substantially':

First...Given the scientific evidence...the industry cannot justify failing to eliminate smoking from youth-rated movies. Whether this is accomplished through meaningful, consistently enforced policies adopted by each studio across the industry, or through a chnage in the way movies are rated, or both, the bottom line is that action needs to be taken, now.

Second...[Each company] should include effective anti-tobacco spots in all future DVDs and Blu-ray videos of its films that depict smoking, regardless of MPAA rating, and stipulate that such spots also appear before broadcast, cable and satellite showings, on-demand viewings, and Internet streams and downloads...and encourage theatrical exhibitors to run effective anti-smoking spots before all feature films with smoking.

Third...[Each company] should certify in the closing credits of all of its future motion picture releases with tobacco imagery that 'No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement in connection with the depiction of tobacco products'.

Fourth...[Each company] should keep all, of its future movies free of tobacco brand display, both packaging and promotional collateral. Read the letter

Is your state's attorney general among the many standing up for these reasonable, life-saving policies? If so, give them kudos for tackling one of the biggest public health challenges confronting our communities.

If not, make sure they have all the facts.