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Blow off the scjoolkids, waffle with the prosecutors. Could Hollywood be dealing with the tobacco issue any worse?
Blow off the school kids, waffle with the prosecutors. Could Hollywood be dealing with the tobacco issue any worse? It's inevitable that Hollywood will absorb the compelling scientific evidence that on-screen smoking addicts kids, and will decide to get tobacco out of all kid-rated movies. The only question is, when? Last spring, junior and senior high students mailed more than 200,000 letters to Hollywood asking their heroes to stop promoting tobacco. Total responses? Zero. Now, a letter signed August 26 by half of the nation's state Attorneys General has put major studios and their corporate parents on notice of scientific evidence indicating that on-screen tobacco imagery recruits more new young smokers than all of Big Tobacco's paid advertising. More than a thousand kids a day, 390,000 kids a year, will continue to be addicted by Hollywood until it does what both human decency and corporate self-interest dictate. Not name a task force. Not blame directors who blame actors who blame producers. Not pull cynical PR ploys like a "PG-13 smoking" notice. Just stop pushing tobacco at kids. Like all other entertainment in America, from TV to magazines, video games to NASCAR, movies must stop promoting smoking where kids can see it. Given Hollywood's history of collusion with Big Tobacco and the tobacco industry's relentless pursuit of fresh customers to replace the ones it kills, here's what needs to happen: RATE NEW SMOKING MOVIES "R." Want to smoke? It's just as legal as cursing or sex. And it should be treated just the same way by the MPAA. NO MORE BRAND IMAGERY. Big Tobacco used to pay for product placement. Now you're doing it for free? RUN ANTI-SMOKING SPOTS IN THEATERS AND ON VIDEO. If you think smoking is so important, at least immunize your audience. CERTIFY NO PAYOFFS. Everybody denies they're on the take, so why not rebuild trust with the public? Researchers say these measures would cut movie smoking's impact on kids by more than half and avert hundreds of thousands of tobacco deaths. Without intruding on content. It's time for John Calley, Michael Eisner, Sherry Lansing, Chris McGurk, Barry Meyer, Ron Meyer and Tom Rothman to instruct their MPAA to end the stonewalling. Stop all tobacco promotion in kid-rated films.