Press Release

Attorney General David Márquez Joins in Effort Asking Hollywood to Add Anti-Smoking Message to DVDs

November 16, 2005

(Anchorage) – Attorney General David Márquez announced today that he, and 31 other states attorneys general *** have signed a letter requesting Hollywood's major motion picture studios to insert anti-smoking public service announcements in all DVDs, videos and other newer home viewing formats of movies in which smoking is depicted.

"Governor Murkowski's administration has made a reduction in smoking by young people a primary goal in his continuing campaign to protect Alaskans from the known dangers of smoking," said Márquez. "Attaching anti-smoking messages to DVDs and other movie formats will supplement our own efforts to educate at-risk groups, especially younger Alaskans from taking up or continuing to engage in this dangerous habit."

The letter is prompted by the November 7, 2005 publication of the most recent study to find that adolescents with the greatest exposure to depictions of smoking in movies were almost three times more likely to try smoking than their peers in the least exposed group, even after controlling for other known smoking initiation factors. The study, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics and was conducted by the Dartmouth Medical School with National Cancer Institute funding, is the first to determine the effects of viewing smoking in movies on a nationally representative sample of youth in the United States.

The letter also notes that an anti-smoking Public Service Announcement (PSA) currently is being produced by the American Legacy Foundation, funded with money from the states' 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), to run in theaters across the country.

This effort is not the first attempt by states' attorneys general to address the film industry about the dangers of smoking. In 2003, 28 attorneys general sent a letter to the president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), citing a Dartmouth study finding that a reduction in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in movies could drastically decrease the initiation of smoking in youth.

In 1998, the National Association of Attorneys General passed a resolution asking actors and actresses and the motion picture industry to take steps to reduce use of tobacco by children under 18. The resolution, citing tobacco-related illnesses and deaths caused by underage smoking, called upon members of the motion picture industry to voluntarily review the use of cigars and cigarettes in film to eliminate or reduce use of tobacco and tobacco products; and to consider establishing and maintaining public education programs and other activities specifically designed to discourage children from ever using tobacco and tobacco products.

***Attorneys general from the following states have signed on to the letter: Maryland, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

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