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Attorneys general call for streaming industry to limit tobacco use

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A bipartisan coalition of 43 attorneys general are urging the streaming industry to limit tobacco use in their video content. Attorneys general from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa are among the group. 

Citing a rise in tobacco products among teens, the change would be a proactive step to protect the lives of young viewers, according to a press release from Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. 

“Reducing tobacco imagery in video content can lead to reduced tobacco use,” said Kaul in a statement. “We’re asking streaming services to take steps that can help save lives.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if cigarette smoking continues at the current rate among youth, 5.6 million of today's Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. The agency also cites seeing tobacco product advertising on television, the internet or in movies as an influence that affect youth tobacco use. 

In letters sent from the group of elected officials to various media groups, the following policies have been proposed: 

  • Eliminate or exclude tobacco imagery in all future original streamed content for young viewers, including any content rated TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, G, PG and PG-13, and ensure that any promotional material such as previews, trailers, image galleries and clips be tobacco-free. Content with tobacco imagery should be rated TV-MA or R and only recommended to adult viewers.
  • Only “recommend” or designate tobacco-free content for children, adolescents, families and general audiences.
  • Improve or offer parental controls that are effective, prominent, and easy-to-use, that allow parents and guardians specifically to restrict access to all content with tobacco content, regardless of rating.
  • Mitigate the negative influence of tobacco content, from whatever source and with any rating, by streaming strong anti-smoking and/or anti-vaping public service announcements, as appropriate, before all videos with tobacco content.

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