More than a dozen states have moved to declare pornography a public health crisis.

The Arizona Senate approved a resolution this week calling for a systemic effort to prevent exposure to porn that’s increasingly accessible to younger kids online. At least one legislative chamber has adopted a similar resolution in 15 other states.

“It is an epidemic in our society, and this makes a statement that we have a problem,” said Arizona Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican who blamed pornography for contributing to violence against women, sexual activity among teens and unintended pregnancies.

FILE - In this April 19, 2016, file photo, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert looks up during a ceremonial signing of a state resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
FILE – In this April 19, 2016, file photo, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert looks up during a ceremonial signing of a state resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The resolution that passed Monday doesn’t ban pornography or create any other legal changes, but it could signal future action. Similar declarations have been passed in GOP-controlled states ranging from Tennessee to Montana and been adopted in the Republican Party’s national platform.

The legislation could pave the way for future steps, like keeping publicly funded internet at places like schools and libraries from being used to access porn, said Haley Halverson with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which is working on new model legislation for states taking those next steps.

“We think these resolutions are really powerful, although they’re non-binding, because they raise awareness and educate the public, and hopefully can lay the groundwork to make more resources available to those people who potentially struggle with pornography,” she said.

Any future steps to restrict access to pornography have to be handled carefully to avoid running afoul of the First Amendment, said David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

“When you declare it as a public health crisis, people see that as a blank check for the government to do something about it,” he said.

Utah was the first state to pass an anti-porn resolution in 2016. In the years since, lawmakers have passed bills tightening up filters on wireless internet at public libraries and getting out information to parents about controls available at home, said Republican Rep. Todd Weiler, the effort’s sponsor.

Another new state law lets parents sue pornography makers if their kids need treatment for problems related to porn use, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone has made a legal challenge through it.

“We’re trying to shed a light on an issue that some people don’t think it’s OK to talk about,” he said.

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