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SCR-143 Smoking: youth: motion picture industry.(2017-2018)

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Senate Concurrent Resolution
No. 143

Introduced by Senator Pan

May 08, 2018

Relative to smoking.


SCR 143, as introduced, Pan. Smoking: youth: motion picture industry.
This measure would encourage the motion picture industry to take specified action with regard to the industry’s depiction of smoking, and would encourage the State Department of Public Health, the Attorney General, and other state and local agencies to continue to expand efforts to reduce and eliminate the depiction of smoking in entertainment and media venues, as specified.
Fiscal Committee: YES  

WHEREAS, Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, or more than 1,300 deaths every day; and
WHEREAS, For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking; and
WHEREAS, Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers; and
WHEREAS, The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion per year in the United States, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults, and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to illness and death; and
WHEREAS, The tobacco industry spends about $1 million every hour on advertising and promotions, more than $24 million every day, and about $9 billion per year; and
WHEREAS, For each of the 1,300 people who die every day due to smoking, at least two youths or young adults become regular smokers each day, and almost 90 percent of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette by 18 years of age; and
WHEREAS, The United States Surgeon General has concluded that smoking prevention efforts should focus on young people, and that youth are vulnerable to social and environmental influences, messages, and images promoting tobacco use; and
WHEREAS, Tobacco industry documents show that the movie industry collaborated for decades in promoting smoking and tobacco brands, before and after the United States Surgeon General’s 1964 report was released stating that smoking causes cancer; and
WHEREAS, The Attorney General of the State of California has made an ongoing effort to enforce the provisions of the Master Settlement Agreement that prohibits any payment or other consideration to any other person or entity to use, display, make reference to, or use as a prop any tobacco product, tobacco product package, advertisement for a tobacco product, or any item bearing a brand name in any motion picture; and
WHEREAS, In 2012, the United States Surgeon General concluded that there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in movies and the initiation of smoking by young persons. The more frequently youths see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to start smoking. Youths who are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking imagery are two to three times more likely to begin smoking than youths who are less exposed; and
WHEREAS, Exposure to onscreen smoking recruits an estimated 37 percent of all new young smokers, and is the number one reason that young people start smoking; and
WHEREAS, The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2014 that 6.4 million children alive today will become smokers because of exposure to onscreen smoking. Two million of these young recruits will die prematurely due to smoking-related diseases; and
WHEREAS, The data on smoking images and depiction in the top-grossing movies in the United States has been collected for more than 25 years by the nonprofit organization Breathe California Sacramento Region, and is used by many national and international researchers, public health groups, and medical groups; and
WHEREAS, In July 2017, the CDC released a report summarizing this data and research, and found that occurrences of smoking in movies reached a peak in 2005, and then declined by almost half by 2010. But, since then, from 2010 to 2017, the total number of tobacco incidents in top-grossing movies has increased, with a 57 percent increase occurring in movies rated PG-13; and
WHEREAS, If the motion picture industry had simply continued reducing tobacco content in its youth-rated films at the pace it did between 2005 and 2010, all youth-rated films would have been entirely smoke free by 2015; and
WHEREAS, Since the industry’s progress halted, major studios and independent producer-distributors have released 241 top-grossing, youth-rated films in the United States featuring more than 6,900 tobacco incidents, delivering 64.9 billion tobacco impressions in United States theaters alone; and
WHEREAS, The 2017 CDC report concluded that “… the lack of progress in recent years suggests that enhanced measures to address tobacco incidents in movies are warranted. One such intervention would be the assignment of an R rating to any movie with smoking or other tobacco-use imagery (unless the portrayal is of actual historical figures who smoked, a documentary, or if the portrayal includes the negative effects of tobacco use)”; and
WHEREAS, The CDC estimates that the R rating will save over one million children from premature death caused by cancer or other tobacco-related diseases; and
WHEREAS, In August 2017, 17 of the most prominent and respected medical and public health organizations in the United States sent a letter to the Motion Picture Association of America and the major movie and video production and distribution companies, with the demand that after June 1, 2018, any motion picture with tobacco imagery be rated R, with the exceptions noted above; and
WHEREAS, Major motion picture studios with direct governance authority over the film rating system in the United States, through their trade association, the Motion Picture Association of America, account for two-thirds of the youth-rated films portraying tobacco use released since 2010, 70 percent of youth-rated tobacco incidents, and 86 percent of youth-rated audience tobacco impressions; and
WHEREAS, The United States’ film industry, simply by leaving smoking out of future films rated for adolescents domestically and in other markets, can turn the page and fundamentally alter the destiny of families around the world for decades to come; and
WHEREAS, The additional health consequences of further delay in taking the substantive steps consistently recommended to the film industry for the past 15 years will be enormous; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature encourages the major motion picture studios, operating through their trade group, the Motion Picture Association of America, to give an adult “R” (Restricted) rating to any new film designed for viewing by children or adolescents that shows or implies smoking or tobacco use, with only two categorical exceptions: (a) when the depiction unambiguously reflects the dangers and consequences of smoking or tobacco use, or (b) the depiction exclusively represents the smoking or tobacco use of an actual historic or living person, as in a biographical drama or documentary; and be it further
Resolved, That the Motion Picture Association of America, and the major movie, film, or video studios and producers, independent movie, film, or video producers, and movie, film, or video distributors or exhibitors, are urged to adopt this policy and practice in their film and video rating systems, and educational, informational, and promotional materials for parents, young people, and others; and be it further
Resolved, That the State Department of Public Health, the Attorney General of California, and other state and local agencies, should continue to expand efforts to reduce and eliminate the depiction of smoking in entertainment and media venues, including, but not limited to, movies, films, video, streaming video, video or computer games, social media, and smartphone or computer applications, including the funding of efforts to identify and catalog the images and depiction of smoking in these venues, and to make this information available to both researchers and the general public; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the State Department of Public Health, the Attorney General of California, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the major movie, film, or video studios and producers in California and the United States, the independent movie, film, or video producers in California and the United States, and the movie, film, or video distributors or exhibitors and their parent companies in California and the United States.