Attorney General Camacho joins coalition in urging creative community to protect young viewers from tobacco imagery

November 12, 2020 – Tamuning, Guam- Guam still has one of the highest smoking prevalence rates in the country for both adults and youth according to the recently released 2018 Guam State Epidemiological Profile. The report found that nearly 23.5% of middle school students and 26.5% of high school students surveyed reported that they vaped, or were current users of electronic cigarettes or other electronic nicotine delivery systems.

The rates of youth vaping in Guam is nearly double the national rate.

“It is staggering to think that nearly 1 in 4 middle school students in Guam reported vaping,” said Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho. “We need to continue educating our youth about the dangerous health effects of tobacco and getting influencers in the movie industry to join the cause.”

Attorney General Camacho and 42 attorneys general have expanded their efforts to protect young viewers from tobacco imagery in streamed movies and programs. In 2012, following a decade of studies, the Surgeon General concluded that “[t]here is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people.” More recently, a study by the Truth Initiative found that children who watch episodic programs with tobacco content are significantly more likely to begin vaping than those who are not exposed to such content. Even those with low levels of exposure were more than twice as likely to start using e-cigarettes, and those with high exposure were over three times more likely.

In letters to five Hollywood creative guilds, the bipartisan coalition urged them to use their collective influence to persuade members of the creative community to depict tobacco imagery more responsibly and to encourage streaming companies to:

● Adopt best practices that steer young viewers away from content with tobacco imagery, including excluding tobacco imagery in future content targeting children;
● Only recommend and promote tobacco-free titles for children and families;
● Mitigate the historic and cumulative impact of watching tobacco imagery by running strong anti-tobacco spots, especially before content with smoking or vaping;
● Display prominent and forceful tobacco warnings before content with tobacco imagery; and
● Offer effective parental controls, so families may be empowered to choose smoke-free content.

The coalition includes attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Letters were sent to the Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screenwriters Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

This latest effort to curb youth tobacco use follows a collaboration between the OAG and the Truth Initiative last year to expand its highly effective youth prevention campaign in Guam. Click here to read more about the truth® campaign.