Statement from the American Legacy Foundation(R)
WASHINGTON, July 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the California Governor's office announced that anti-smoking public service announcements (PSAs) developed by the state will be included in youth-rated DVD movies from several major Hollywood studios. The American Legacy Foundation(R), a national public health foundation dedicated to reducing tobacco use in the U.S., applauds the state of California for joining in the nationwide effort to educate youth on the dangers of tobacco use. Moreover, as young people continue to be exposed to tobacco images on screen and on television, the effort to reach them in this way is critical.
More than half of youth-rated movies contain smoking, and research shows these images can influence 200,000 new youth smokers a year. As a result, the foundation and a host of national health organizations - including the American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Lung Association and more - have long supported including anti-smoking PSAs before movies with smoking, along with other smoke-free movies policies.
The foundation is delighted that the California Department of Health, a well-respected leader in state tobacco control has joined this important life-saving initiative. Over the past few years, Legacy has worked closely with state Attorneys General around the country to include PSAs from our award-winning truth(R) youth smoking prevention campaign in DVDs, for both youth- and R-rated movies. The Weinstein Company was an early leader in this effort and has since included truth(R) spots in about two dozen films. The Walt Disney Company (Miramax and Buena Vista studios) and Time Warner (Warner Bros.) have also placed these important and highly effective ads from truth(R) in DVDs.
"Putting ads in more movies is a positive step to curb the negative effect that movie smoking has on youth starting to smoke," said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H., President and CEO of the foundation. "We believe more can, and must, be done by the industry. The most important way to reduce youth exposure to smoking in movies is take it completely out of youth-rated films."
(Read about the Smoke Free Movies Policies at http://www.americanlegacy.org/70.aspx.)
Rigorous evaluation shows that truth(R) was responsible for 22 percent of the overall decline in smoking rates in the campaign's first two years (2000-2002) and 300,000 fewer smokers in 2002. The campaign is stronger than ever, creatively reaching youth in innovative ways that we never would have imagined 10 years ago. It engages youth through television, print and online ads, social media all over the Internet, and now movies through DVDs and theaters.
While we in public health and tobacco control have seen positive progress in our collective efforts to end the tobacco epidemic, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows us that, although youth smoking is currently at the lowest level in the past 30 years, the recent substantial declines seen between 1997-2003 leveled off between 2003-2007. To beat the number one preventable cause of death we will have to use every tool in our arsenal - including community level tobacco control programs and science-based counter-advertising mass media campaigns like truth(R), and PSAs in movies, among other things.
The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The