The American Legacy Foundation this week issued a four-point set of recommendations to address what it claims is "the impact that smoking in the movies has on causing youth to start smoking."
The recommendations are:
"1. Encourage an R rating for movies containing smoking images;
2. Raise awareness on paid tobacco placements in movies;
3. Require studios to place anti-smoking messages prior to any film with a tobacco presence; and
4. Eliminate tobacco brands and brand imagery in all movies."
Apparently, Tuesday was an International Day of Action aimed at drawing attention to the evidence that seeing smoking in movies causes kids to start smoking and at stimulating efforts to resolve this problem.
The Rest of the Story
This is all quite charming, but there's one major problem. The American Legacy Foundation has left off of its list of recommendations the single most effective intervention I can think of today that is critical if we are to seriously address the problem of smoking portrayals in movies.
And that problem is the tendency of national anti-smoking organizations to forge corporate partnerships with the company that is the chief culprit in terms of youth exposure to smoking in movies - Time Warner (which owns Warner Brothers, which has been estimated by one anti-smoking researcher to deliver 100,000 kids each year to the tobacco industry).
In fact, it is the American Legacy Foundation itself which has forged a major corporate partnership with Time Warner, and has described Time Warner as being a leader in the tobacco control movement.
So here is my own four-point set of recommendations I am today issuing that I think are critical to address the fact that Warner Brothers is apparently delivering 100,000 kids a year to the tobacco industry:
The Rest of the Story Recommendations for Addressing Smoking in the Movies
1. All national anti-smoking organizations which have declared that smoking in the movies causes kids to start smoking and is therefore a major problem should immediately dissolve all corporate partnerships with the chief cause of the problem - Time Warner - since it is a direct conflict with the mission of the organization to partner with a company that is, by the organization's own admission, bombarding kids with these pro-smoking messages and causing them to start smoking.
2. All national anti-smoking organizations which have declared that a corporation (Time Warner) is knowingly recruiting multitudes of new young smokers should immediately dissolve all corporate partnerships with that corporation (Time Warner), since it is a direct conflict with the mission of an organization whose goal is to promote a world where anyone can reject tobacco to partner with a company that is knowingly recruiting multitudes of new young smokers by causing them not to reject tobacco.
3. All national anti-smoking organizations should immediately cease and desist from calling any corporation (Time Warner) that is knowingly recruiting multitudes of new young smokers a leader in the tobacco control movement, since it is difficult to imagine how a leader in the movement would knowingly recruit multitudes of new young smokers.
4. After recommendations #1, #2, and #3 are taken, then and only then do I think the national anti-smoking organization in question will be in a credible and effective position to be able to issue its own recommendations and seriously and effectively begin to address the problem.
I think it would only be appropriate for my four-point set of recommendations to be immediately adopted in honor of the International Day of Action to address the problem of smoking in the movies.