According to an advertisement being unveiled today in the Daily Variety, an American Legacy Foundation partner has "delivered an estimated 10 billion tobacco impressions to U.S. theater audiences alone."
The ad series, being run by the SmokeFreeMovies campaign, aims to eliminate the portrayal of smoking in movies seen primarily by youths (specifically, those with a G, PG, or PG-13 rating).
The culprit, according to the ad? Time Warner, whose CEO - Richard Parsons - "sat on Philip Morris' Board for ten years."
The SmokeFreeMovies policy proposals are endorsed by the American Legacy Foundation.
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I'm sorry, but it's hard to have any credibility as a national anti-smoking organization if your chief partner is a corporation that has "delivered an estimated 10 billion tobacco impressions to U.S. theater audiences alone."
And it's difficult not to come across as complete hypocrites when you endorse the SmokeFreeMovies policy goals on the one hand, and then you partner with the chief culprit of the problem on the other.
This action by the American Legacy Foundation is a complete joke. And frankly, it's an embarrassment to the entire tobacco control movement.
There are a large number of tobacco control advocates and organizations which have been working for years to address the problem of youth exposure to smoking advertisements and glamorous smoking portrayals in magazines and movies. With its completely unprincipled action of partnering with the chief culprit, which has apparently delivered 10 billion of these tobacco impressions to the nation's youths, the American Legacy Foundation has totally undermined all of the hard work of these dedicated advocates and organizations.
And apparently, it's all for financial and/or organizational gain. It appears that Time Warner is providing a platform for Legacy to get across its messages. Possibly, Legacy is receiving in-kind or monetary support from Time Warner in return for what amounts to an endorsement of the company by one of the nation's "leading" anti-smoking groups. I can think of no other plausible explanation for why Legacy would partner with the chief culprit of the problem that the SmokeFreeMovies campaign seeks to solve.
I guess when it comes to money and/or power, the lines between right and wrong get obscured. Apparently, money and/or power justify hypocritical actions like blasting companies for delivering youths to the tobacco industry on the one hand and partnering with those very companies on the other hand.
I think it's the loss of principle that disturbs me the most. I think it's time that we as a movement stand for something. It's almost getting to the point where I don't care what we stand for. Let's just stand for something and stick with it.
We can't attack corporations for delivering kids to Big Tobacco at the same time as we partner with those corporations. We can't attack Big Tobacco for contributing money to Congress to lobby for federal legislation at the same time as we join them in lobbying for that very same legislation. We can't attack the tobacco companies for their misleading and inaccurate communications to the public, while at the same time we are running a widespread public information campaign that is based on completely fallacious scientific claims.
I don't think we can have it both ways. We can't attack companies for doing things and then turn around and do those very same things. We can't attack companies publicly for addicting and ultimately killing kids and then turn around and privately forge deals with those companies for mutual benefit.
It's not only hypocritical, but it also undermines the effectiveness of the movement and seriously threatens our credibility.
I think it's time for the American Legacy Foundation to make a decision. Does it really want to put pressure on Time Warner to reduce its delivery of smoking images to children or does it not? If it does, then it needs to immediately dissolve its partnership with Time Warner. If it doesn't then it needs to immediately end its partnership with the SmokeFreeMovies campaign.
I think Legacy needs to make up its mind. Which side is it on? If it's on the side of SmokeFreeMovies, then that's fine. But call Time Warner and tell them that the partnership is over. If it's on the side of Time Warner, then that's fine too. But call SmokeFreeMovies and tell them that the partnership is over.
What Legacy is doing seems kind of like having two spouses. It's Legacy's prerogative to choose the entity to which they wish to be married. But you have to make up your mind, one way or the other.