Living in a state that leads the nation in adult film rentals, a Utah Republican lawmaker has proposed a bill that would declare pornography a "public health crisis," and a national epidemic.
According to State Sen. Todd Weiler, pornography and adult films create a “sexually toxic environment,” which increases demand for prostitutes and ultimately destroys families, reports the New York Daily News.
"I have read books and I have experts tell me pornography is more difficult to overcome than cocaine," Weiler said, adding he wants to take on the “pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.”
Along with its reputation for being one of the most conservative states in the U.S., Utah also has the dubious distinction of being one of the country's largest consumers of adult entertainment. A study by Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman in 2009 demonstrated that more than 5 out of every 1,000 households in Utah were paying for porn.
"Even when I control for income, age, education and marital status, Utah residents still consume disproportionately more than people from other states,” Edelman told the Salt Lake Tribune.
According to Weiler, citizens of Utah seek out porn on the Internet because it affords them anonymity and because sex shops are rare in the state that is predominately Mormon and conservative.
"I think porn is higher in Utah because of the culture here," Weiler explained. "On the internet, porn is anonymous and it's accessible."
Weiler said he hopes to change the public perception of porn, and compared the damage it causes to climate change.
"These are scientific facts, just like global warming," he said.
The senator also noted that, as a divorce attorney, he has seen first-hand the damage adult films can do to marriages.
Specifically addressing the wording of his bill, Weiler said he said even it has its limitations.
"My resolution does not deal with masturbation, I think that's beyond the scope of what I'm doing," he said. "We're not going to outlaw masturbation in Utah."