In a press release yesterday regarding the recently released trends in youth smoking prevalence (which showed a slowing of the rate of decline in youth smoking), the American Legacy Foundation listed three steps for the nation to take to reduce youth smoking. In addition to encouraging states to spend more of their Master Settlement Agreement revenues on tobacco control programs and emphasizing the need to restore funding for the Legacy Foundation's "truth" campaign, the Foundation press release emphasized the importance of smoking in the movies and suggested keeping smoking out of non-R rated movies as a critical intervention:
"3. Recognize the impact of smoking in the movies on American youth. A new study released just last month in the journal Pediatrics showed that more than one-third of US adolescents between 10-14 years of age start smoking do so as a direct result of exposure to smoking in films. Keeping smoking out of G, PG, and PG-13 movies could prevent these youth from becoming daily smokers."
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If the American Legacy Foundation is so concerned about the impact of smoking in the movies on the epidemic of youth smoking, then it would certainly want, as a very first step to address this problem, to end any corporate partnerships it might have with corporations that are exposing millions of children to smoking in the movies and therefore causing them to start smoking.
But Legacy, indeed, is partnering not only with precisely such a corporation, but with the corporation that is responsible for more youth smoking impressions in movies than any other company - Time Warner.
Time Warner, is in fact, listed as the top corporate partner of the American Legacy Foundation.
If Legacy wants to do anything about reducing youth smoking caused by exposure to smoking in movies, then it only makes sense to start with itself. And the first step is to end its corporate partnership with the chief culprit - Time Warner.
In my view, you can't be taken seriously if you complain about smoking in movies out of one side of your mouth, and then out of the other, you forge a corporate partnership that provides tremendous respect, credibility, and prestige as a responsible social corporate citizen to the company that is the chief cause of the problem about which you are complaining.
I think it completely undermines everything you do as an organization, and I think it represents the utmost in hypocrisy.
Perhaps the New Year's Resolution for the American Legacy Foundation should be to end its corporate partnership with a company that is causing thousands of young people to start smoking. Or else, stop publicly complaining about the problem. You can't have it both ways. Decide which it is, and then stick to it.
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