July 12th, 2008

DVDs Will Include Antismoking Announcements

By Lauren A.E. Schuker
The Wall Street Journal

Six major Hollywood studios have agreed to place antismoking public-service announcements on all DVDs of new, youth-oriented films featuring tobacco use.

The agreement—signed onto by Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures; General Electric Co.’s Universal Studios; Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.; Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures; Walt Disney Co.; and News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox—runs through the end of 2009. It comes after years of lobbying by antismoking groups against the glamorization of tobacco use in Hollywood movies.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation, a group that has long campaigned against the negative consequences of smoking in movies, helped broker the deal and is paying costs for the talent associated with the advertisements.

The studios will begin using four public-service announcements, including one called “Icons” that features shots of a cowboy, hip-hop DJ and a ‘20s-era flapper against a cut of a dying man in a wheelchair who says, “The reality is that you can end up looking like this.” That commercial will be the first of the four advertisements to run when Sony releases it at the beginning of its movie, “21,” on DVD this month.

“This new weapon here of the DVDs comes at the perfect time,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a news conference Friday. “The antismoking crusade is taking another giant step forward, and the studios will help us reach tens of millions more viewers.”

Though active on the antitobacco front, Gov. Schwarzenegger is also known for frequently smoking cigars on and off screen and tows a moderate line when it comes smoking in films. “I personally don’t believe that we should erase cigarettes in movies . . . I think that we should remind people and kids all the time about the dangers of smoking.”

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