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AG Reyes and 43 Attorneys General Urge Streaming Industry to Limit Tobacco Use

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2019

A.G. Reyes: “Protect Young Video Viewers from Tobacco”
43 Attorneys General Urge Streaming Industry to Limit Tobacco Use

AGs provide policy guidelines to combat increasing use of tobacco products by young people

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined a bipartisan coalition of 43 attorneys general, in urging the streaming video industry to limit tobacco use in their content. Due to the growing use of tobacco and e-cigarette products among teens, the attorneys general urge the streaming industry to take proactive steps to protect the lives of young viewers.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018.  Smoking remains the number one preventable killer in the United States and causes over 480,000 deaths per year.

Attorney General Reyes is committed to protecting public health by reducing the number of smokers and ensuring tobacco companies meet their obligations under the tobacco settlement.

“Given the recent significant rise in tobacco use by young people, particularly the use of e-cigarettes, preventing initiation and use of tobacco products is of critical importance to us and the public health community, and we sincerely hope it will be addressed by the streaming industry,” read the letters signed by 43 state and territory attorneys general.

In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that watching movies with tobacco imagery increases the likelihood that adolescents will become smokers. In their letter, the Attorneys General urge the video streaming industry to adopt the following policies to protect young viewers from the ill effects of tobacco content:

  • 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.

In 1998, Attorneys General across the nation fought to enter into the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which imposed major restrictions on tobacco company marketing practices and prohibits advertising aimed at youth. This included banning the advertisement of tobacco products on TV shows, movies and video content. Despite the ban, studies by the public health organization Truth Initiative found a high rate of tobacco content in streamed videos that are popular with young viewers. In particular, the study discovered high rates of tobacco usage in TV-Y and TV-PG shows. Further, a 2018 study found the streamed videos that are most popular with young viewers feature higher rates of tobacco content than programs shown on traditional television. A 2019 report by the Truth Initiative showed that the danger has only grown in the past year.  

In sending today’s letter, Attorney General Reyes was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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Notes:

  1. In 2018, Attorney General Reyes announced a $300 million settlement agreement with major tobacco companies: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/ago-secures-settlement-with-tobacco-companies/
  2. In 2014, Attorney General Reyes joined with 45 other attorneys general to urge the U.S. Trade Representative to exclude tobacco and tobacco products when negotiating all international trade and investment agreements: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/attorney-general-sean-d-reyes-is-one-of-45-attorneys-general-to-push-for-state-and-local-tobacco-regulation/

AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2019

AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a letter to Congressional leadership in both the House and Senate, asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder. 

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said it’s estimated that 2 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder.

“States are on the front lines and are combining all of the resources at our disposal to stop the current crisis,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Although we have been successful in many ways, there is more that can be done by the federal government. By eliminating the barriers outlined in our letter, Congress can take meaningful, productive steps that will benefit those currently struggling with addiction before it’s too late.

“I appreciate my attorneys general colleagues who acknowledge that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing, and the more help we can provide for those struggling the better,” Attorney General Reyes added.

The letter outlines three areas that need to be addressed:

  • Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and 
  • Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“The opioid epidemic is tearing families apart all over our state and nation,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Opioid addiction, like all chronic illnesses, requires treatment for people to get healthy. We must remove all unnecessary barriers between people with opioid use disorder and the treatment they need. I urge Congress to take these needed steps.”

Utah is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, (the leaders of the letter); California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Read the letter here.

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AG Reyes Urges Congress to Pass Legislation Allowing Marijuana-Related Business to Access the Banking System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2019

AG REYES JOINS COALITION OF 38 STATES URGING CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION ALLOWING MARIJUANA-RELATED BUSINESS TO ACCESS THE BANKING SYSTEM

SALT LAKE CITYUtah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 states and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act or similar measures that would give legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system.

“I urge Congress to be proactive and face the reality that legislation is crucial to providing structure to a business that’s growing exponentially,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “In Utah, we need to address the business side of our state’s medical marijuana law. The Utah Legislature, Governor Gary R. Herbert, and State Treasurer David Damschen are equally invested in seeking a solution to this reality. If we don’t act, there could be serious issues for both state government and our financial institutions. This is both a public safety and state’s rights issue.”

Under existing law, federal regulators prohibit financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses in states where medical or retail marijuana sales are legal. Forcing legal businesses to operate as cash-only operations poses serious safety threats, creating targets for violent and white-collar crime. The SAFE Banking Act permits marijuana-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system.

The SAFE Banking Act has widespread, bipartisan support with 172 cosponsors in the U.S. House. The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill in March and now it awaits a vote by the full House.

With the backing of 38 of the nation’s attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. Historically, NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year.

The coalition of states and territories includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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NOTES:
1. Find the full text of H.R. 1595 – SAFE Banking Act of 2019 here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1595?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22SAFE+Banking+Act%22%5D%7D&s=1&r=

2. The full text of the NAAG letter to Congress can be read here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NAAG-Letter-SAFE-Banking-Act-of-2019.pdf

3. During the last Legislative Session, the Utah Senate presented a concurrent resolution urging legal medical cannabis banking in an effort to resolve this issue. You can read the entire resolution here: https://le.utah.gov/~2019/bills/static/SCR007.html

Utah AG Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2019

Utah Attorney General Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The attorneys general delivered formal legal comments to the FCC urging the adoption of its proposed caller ID spoofing rules and enforcement. These rules specifically address calls to the United States that originated from overseas and includes spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services. These provisions included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill are also known as the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

From the comments to the FCC:

The exponential growth in unlawful scam robocalls is putting more and more of our vulnerable populations at risk. The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough.

“Not only are these robocalls and spoof phone calls annoying, they’re illegal,” said Attorney General Reyes. “As Attorney General, I call on the FCC to take immediate action in order to protect Utah consumers from scams that too often victimize our citizens.”
 
Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Utah Department of Commerce stated, “The Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection supports all efforts to combat deceptive spoofing, bogus text messages and illegal robocalls pinging consumers’ phones. These phony scams continue to be a huge problem where too many consumers are losing money, so let’s look for solutions.”
 
The number of spoofed calls and the consumer financial losses tied to these scams have increased by nearly 50 percent in recent years. The offices of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah Department of Commerce receive many complaints about these calls every month.
 
Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, in 2018, the FCC reports that Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls resulting in nearly $488 million lost.
 
The coalition sending formal comments to the FCC was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and included Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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NOTES:
1. A copy of the comments to the FCC from the 42 state attorneys general can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FCC-Spam-Spoofing-petition.pdf.

Utah AG Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Defending Law that Protects Native American Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN BRIEF DEFENDING LAW THAT PROTECTS NATIVE AMERICAN CHILDREN

SALT LAKE CITY – On Monday, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 states in filing an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage.
 
“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”  
 
First enacted in 1978, ICWA was a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.i This resulted in the separation of Indian children from not only their families, but their tribes and heritage as well. ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.ii 

Attorney General Reyes continued, “It’s imperative Native American youth stay with their families and tribes whenever possible. There is tremendous cultural importance in this for the children and the nations. As one with heritage from a Native people, I am sensitive to this issue. The Native Hawaiian language was almost lost forever, until it was once again taught to our children in schools and at home.”
 
In this case, individual plaintiffs, along with the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and its now-former Secretary Ryan Zinke to challenge the law. In October 2018, the district court for the Northern District of Texas agreed and struck down much of ICWA on constitutional grounds. The brief filed today by Attorney General Reyes and 21 other Attorneys General argues that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles. The brief also highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.iii
 
Attorney General Reyes joined the Attorneys General of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the brief. 

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i. About ICWA » NICWA. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nicwa.org/about-icwa/
ii. Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bia.gov/bia/ois/dhs/icwa
iii. A copy of the brief can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Brackeen-Amicus.pdf

Photo Credit: Romel Jacinto


Utah AG Defends Law to Protect Native American Children

January 15, 2019

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 state attorneys general on Monday in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. 

ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage. It was first enacted in 1943 as a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.

ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.

Attorneys general in the states of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin joined Attorney General Reyes in arguing that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles.

The brief highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.

“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”

Read the full press release here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/ag-protects-native-american-children/

Photo by Visit Mississippi

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