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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release December 3, 1997

I am pleased to announce that I have just concluded the first ever White House meeting of entertainment leaders -- including leaders of the major creative guilds -- who gathered together to personally commit themselves to take steps to stop glamorizing smoking in movies and television. They have committed to taking a leadership role in reaching out to their peers to educate them about the impact that on-screen smoking has on young people. Because of our conversations today, we are one step closer to the day when our movie and television screens are less often smoke screens to the dangers of tobacco.

Today, more and more children in America are smoking -- endangering themselves and those around them. We've seen evidence that smoking in the movies is up as well. According to an American Lung Association survey, 77 percent of all movies featured scenes of tobacco use -- and too often these scenes glamorized smoking.

Our creative community has an enormous impact on our lives. We all agree that balancing artistic freedom and responsible portrayals of smoking isn't easy. But what I learned today in our meeting is that the best way to find this balance is through education, outreach, and raising awareness. I have no doubt that increased consciousness about the dangers of tobacco will mean increased conscientiousness about how Hollywood portrays smoking.

Let me be clear, I am not advocating new government regulations or censorship. It's not Washington's job to tell authors and artists what to put in their movies and television shows. But every day in Washington, in Hollywood, and everywhere in between, Americans are dying because of smoking. We know that using tobacco doesn't make you vigorous, good looking, or popular. We know that we need to turn the tide against the glamorization of smoking. We will reach that goal when each of us takes responsibility for our actions and their effects on our nation's young people.