AG asks entertainment guilds for help reducing youth tobacco exposure

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking entertainment guilds to help reduce the risk of exposure to tobacco imagery.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the entertainment industry should reduce the amount of exposure kids have to tobacco imagery in video content.

AG Schmidt said he joined 42 other state and territory attorneys general in sending letters to five guilds of the creative community which urged them to limit tobacco imagery in their content. He said the assistance is an important part of an overall strategy to prevent the renormalization and glamorization of tobacco use and vaping in kids.

“In the race to launch new platforms, provide more content, and capture audiences, many streaming companies failed to consider the impact that easy access to movies and programs with tobacco imagery has upon children,” Schmidt and the other attorneys general wrote. “The MPA ratings system and TV Parental Guidelines, that were designed to shield youth from mature content in theaters and on broadcast television, provide little protection in the world of VOD streaming.”

According to Schmidt, in 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General stated that watching movies with tobacco imagery increases the chances of children becoming smokers. He said smoking is still the number one preventable killer of adults in the U.S., causing over 480,000 deaths each year.

Schmidt said in the letters, the bipartisan coalition urges Hollywood’s creative guilds to use their influence to persuade members of the creative community to depict tobacco imagery more responsibly, while also supporting artistic freedom. He said the letter encourages companies to:

  • Adopt best practices that steer young viewers away from content with tobacco imagery, including excluding tobacco imagery in future content targeting children;
  • Only recommend and promote tobacco-free titles for children and families;
  • Mitigate the historic and cumulative impact of watching tobacco imagery by running strong anti-tobacco spots, especially before content with smoking or vaping;
  • Display prominent and forceful tobacco warnings before content with tobacco imagery; and
  • Offer effective parental controls, so families may be empowered to choose smoke-free content.

According to Schmidt, in the August of 2019, he and 42 other state and territorial attorneys general called on the video demanding streaming companies to take similar efforts to reduce youth exposure to tobacco imagery in movies and programs. He said Monday’s letter builds on that effort.

Schmidt said in 1998, Kansas joined other states in entering a Master Settlement Agreement with the major tobacco manufacturers imposing significant restrictions on tobacco marketing practices and prohibits advertising aimed at kids. He said this includes banning the settling tobacco companies from advertising tobacco products on TV shows, movies and other video content. He said despite the ban, studies show a high rate of tobacco imager in the content of streamed videos popular with younger viewers. He said in particular, the study found high rates of tobacco usage in TV-Y and TV-PG shows.

Copies of the letters sent to the Directors Guild of America, Screenwriters Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees can be found here.

Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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