Virginia lawmaker wants porn declared a public health hazard

RICHMOND, Va. -- A lawmaker in Virginia has filed a bill that would declare pornography a public health hazard in the state, CBS Richmond affiliate WTVR reports.

Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William County proposed the bill, which says pornography leads to problems including the hypersexualization of teenagers and the normalization of abuse of women and children.

While not calling for a ban on porn, the proposed bill says a “pornography epidemic” needs to be addressed, and that there is a need for research, education and policy change regarding what it calls a “public health crisis.” 

Marshall said such a declaration could help pave the way for future limits, similar to how a 1964 federal government report linking cigarettes to disease spurred future restrictions.

“We’ve got to say, ‘This is a problem,’” Marshall said, The Washington Post reported. “Before smoking was identified as a problem, at least the recognition that it led to certain pathologies was a starting point to put restrictions on it. . . . If you recognize it as a problem, then you’re going to try to find ways to solve it within the framework of the statutes we can pass and the institutions we have.”

The legislation will be considered in 2017. The General Assembly’s regular session begins on Jan. 11.