Time Warner, the parent company of the Warner Bros. movie studio, has become the first company to agree to hold a shareholder vote on smoking in movies, according to a press note issued by the shareholder advocacy non-profit group, As You Sow (AYS).
According to the note, issued through PRNewswire-USNewswire, the resolution was proposed by AYS and the non-profit healthcare provider Trinity Health.
‘A 2012 U.S. Surgeon General report concluded that “there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people”,’ the note said. ‘Based on a subsequent 2014 Surgeon General report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … concluded in 2014: “Giving an R-rating to future movies with smoking would… prevent one million [1,000,000] deaths from smoking among children alive today”.’
“This is a historic opportunity for Time Warner,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of AYS. “For the first time, shareholders will be informed that the company’s products are putting millions of children at risk.”
The press note cited the recent Walt Disney annual meeting where Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney would prohibit smoking in all future films. Disney was the first major movie studio to make such a public announcement, though the language of the policy had not yet been released.
AYS published a memo in support of the Time Warner shareholder resolution, noting that Time Warner’s policy to reduce tobacco depictions in movies allowed for ‘compelling creative reasons’.
‘The number of tobacco images that Time Warner delivers to kids each year is subject to extreme fluctuations,’ AYS said. ‘According [to] the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, Time Warner eliminated nearly all smoking in its youth-rated films in 2010. But in 2013, its films accounted for 5.6 billion impressions, which was 44 percent of all tobacco impressions delivered by top-grossing youth-rated films.’
“Tobacco in youth-rated movies is an unnecessary liability,” said Austin Wilson, environmental health program manager at AYS. “This crisis is an opportunity for the company to demonstrate its leadership and its commitment to health.”