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U.S. states ask Hollywood to cut movie smoking

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Los Angeles (dpa) - Representatives of over 20 states have appealed to Hollywood studios to cut down on showing cigarette smoking in films to prevent teens from taking up the habit.

According to reports Wednesday, the letter cited a study from Dartmouth Medical School that said children who watch movies in which actors smoke heavily are three times more likely to smoke themselves than those exposed to less smoking on-screen.

The letter to Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti did not offer any specific steps. A spokesman for Valenti said that he would study the letter carefully and the research it cited.

The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia,

"We're not saying any law has been broken," said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, one of the officials who signed the letter. "We're just asking out of a concern for the health of our kids that the industry do what it can to ensure that kids don't start smoking."

States have banded together before to apply pressure to the tobacco industry, receiving a multi billion dollar settlement from cigarette companies to help them pay for the high medical costs that result from illnesses connected to smoking.

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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