Ad 35

Date of first publication: 
10,000 more US deaths every month.
10,000 more U.S. deaths every month. Tobacco is still the #1 cause of preventable death. And movies recruit girls to smoke. On November 16, 2005, thirty-two state Attorneys General asked the U.S. film industry to add anti-tobacco spots to all future videos with smoking. For the last eight months, the studios and their lobbying group, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), have yet to say yes or no to this reasonable request. Reasonable...because a decade of research identifies on-screen smoking as the #1 recruiter of new young smokers in the U.S. And of the 390,000 adolescents recruited to smoke each year by their exposure to tobacco imagery in movies, tobacco will kill 120,000. That means each month of delay by studios adds 10,000 more American kids to the future tobacco death toll. Plus an uncalculated number of deaths in other countries, where both Hollywood and Big Tobacco now make most of their revenue. Why did state attorneys general ask for anti-tobacco spots on future videos? 1] They’re easy. Look at how many disks carry the MPAA’s anti-piracy message. That probably took a couple of phone calls. And spots don’t alter movie content at all. 2] They’re effective. Tests show that anti-tobacco spots before a film lessen the impact of tobacco imagery. And viewers are just as likely to re-commend the movie to friends. 3] Movies don’t stop pushing tobacco after they leave the theater. Videos and downloads are perpetual promotion machines, a big reason why companies pony up millions for product placement. As a member of the film industry, you have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to protect women and girls around the world—and avert 120,000 future deaths a year in the U.S. alone. Updating the MPAA’s rating system to clear smoking out of future kid-rated films (except for real historical figures and depictions of harsh health consequences) will do the most good. Until the MPAA adopts the rating change, it must at least agree to add anti-tobacco spots to future videos. The health threat from on-screen smoking is proven. Science-based policy solutions are endorsed by every major health organization. Each month that passes without a clear answer to the state Attorneys General condemns 10,000 more U.S. kids to eventual death by tobacco. Corruption or stupidity created this public health crisis. If you have real influence, prove it. Use it now. Ratings tell parents all they need to know about tobacco content, claimed the MPAA. But of more than 400 recent top-grossing films with smoking, only one MPAA rating even mentions the fact. Challenged, the MPAA said that parents should consult industry web sites instead. None of them mentions tobacco content either. What’s going on? So many U.S. women began smoking in the 1950s, the decade movies last showed this much smoking, that lung cancer now kills more women than breast cancer. Today, the growing number of girls starting to use tobacco in developing countries means global tobacco deaths will likely surpass the 10 million once projected for 2025.
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