Smoking On Screen: USA Movies Page 3


Smoking in the movies update…

New sci-fi film identifies “Marlboro Light” as last cigarette on earth
Submitted by sglantz
According to the new sci-fi/horror film Snowpiercer (R, Weinstein), the last cigarettes on earth are Marlboro Light.
That’s what one train passenger cries out when another snaps open a cigarette case, eighteen years after the planet is flash-frozen. Other passengers stare at the two cigarettes in awe. Both cigarettes are smoked in the film.
While the US version of this film names Marlboro Light, other country versions (Korea, Japan, France, etc.) might name another cigarette brand instead. Philip Morris International sells the Marlboro brand in South Korea. If you have the chance to review this film outside the US, please let us know.
Be aware before viewing: This well-crafted film is extremely violent.
Snowpiercer is a South Korea/Czech/Austria co-production, with subsidies available from all. Production companies, including finance sources, are Korean and Czech, led by CJ Entertainment (Seoul).
Budgeted at a reported $39.2 million, the film has grossed $82 million worldwide. It’s directed by Joon-Ho Bong (The Host, Mother) based on a 1982 French graphic novel.

Smokers in movies attacked!

Anti-tobacco lobby protests cigar-smoking robot in Transformers
Tobacco control campaigners in China on Monday protested against smoking in the movie Transformers, a film which broke the country’s box office records.
In Transformers: Age of Extinction, Hound, a major character, is seen with a cigar in his mouth, which campaigners say has a bad influence on the audience, especially teenagers, in a letter to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
Non-government organizations such as ThinkTank, Nature University, and the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control were among those who raised the issue.
The movie was harmful because of its smoking scenes, said Li Enze, a Beijing lawyer engaged in anti-smoking advocacy.
The campaigners asked the administration to “examine and limit” the number of smoking shots, and require all cinemas to run anti-smoking advertisements before the movie.
In 2011, the administration released a circular on smoking in movies and TV plays. Since then, the CATC has released daily reports, granting a “Dirty Ashtray Award” to the movies and TV plays featuring the most smoking, such as blockbuster movie Let the Bullets Fly.

Where there’s smoke …
Resurgence of cigs on TV troubling
November 3, 2011
By Mark Perigard
For some viewers, the most repulsive moment in last night’s episode of “American Horror Story” wasn’t “the tomato microwave surprise” cooked up by a vengeful ghost, but the scene in which a teenager asks for and receives a cigarette from an adult.
Constance (Jessica Lange) happily handed over one of her smokes to Violet (played by Taissa Farmiga, who, at 17, is still a minor) and lit her up.
“Just don’t let your momma know I am encouraging your vices,” she said.
On Sunday’s “The Walking Dead,” Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) pulled out a pack and sniffed at it wistfully.
Earlier this season on “Glee,” Quinn (Dianna Agron) walked on the wild side with a pink dye job and a cigarette in hand.
“Hell on Wheels,” debuting Sunday on AMC, features an anti-hero who puffs away on cigarillos.
“Mad Men,” like the now-shuttered “Playboy Club,” always gets a pass because it’s set in the ’60s, but chain-smoking Don Draper has come to define cool for many viewers.
At a time when even President Obama has been declared “tobacco free,” is smoking making a comeback on prime-time television?
The evidence is anecdotal but troubling.
“It may seem to the general public that it’s only a TV show, that kids aren’t impacted by that, but there’s significant research out there showing otherwise,” said Marc Hymovitz, director of government relations for the state chapter of the American Cancer Society. He referred to a 2008 study from the National Cancer Institute that linked smoking in big-screen films to teen smoking.
“Almost every smoker started as a teenager, and the tobacco industry knows that. With laws limiting their ability to market to kids, this is another way the industry has found to target the next generation of smokers.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health opposes images of smoking in pop culture.
“The image of tobacco products has been proven to cause cravings for those products in current and past tobacco users,” spokeswoman Julia Hurley said in a statement.
According to DPH estimates, more than 7,000 youths a year in Massachusetts become addicted to cigarettes, and smoking kills 8,000 residents annually.
FX spokeswoman Roslyn Bibby-Madison yesterday defended Violet’s decision to smoke on “American Horror Story,” saying the character is a rebel.
It’s unlikely the teen smoker has to worry about cancer.
With the homicidal Rubber Man lurking about, it’s doubtful the character will live to see next season.

Rango slammed by anti-smoking campaigners who say film encourages children to smoke
9th March 2011
By Daniel Bates
Anti-smoking campaigners have branded the animated film Rango a public health hazard for encouraging children to take up the habit.
A raft of groups said the PG feature, which opened last Friday, is setting a bad example by featuring more than 60 instances of characters puffing away.
The only other film which came close was 101 Dalmatians in which Cruella de Vil smoked all the time.
Even the lead character, Rango the chameleon, swallows a cigar and breathes fire in the face of an enemy at one point.
The campaigners said that research has shown that children in elementary school who are exposed to on-screen smoking are more likely to take up the habit as teens.
They are calling on film-makers to stop glamorising smoking and cut the cigarettes out of their productions or give the pictures an R rating so children cannot see them.
Rango, from producers Paramount, stands at No.1 in the box office having made $38million during its opening weekend.
It has proved hugely popular with children who have to go with a parent due to the PG rating.
The small print on the advert does mention that smoking will be a feature of the film but not the extent to which it is appears.
A coalition of groups including California-based Breathe have now come out and criticised Parmount.
Cheryl Healton, president of anti-smoking campaigners Legacy, said: ‘While some in the film industry have taken preliminary steps to protect young audiences by making more movies smoke free, Paramount’s decision to include smoking in a movie designed for kids is really troubling.
‘It is a mystery why Hollywood’s masters of storytelling and visual effects have not found a better way to depict their characters without the danger of influencing young people to light up.’
Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, added: ‘While the incidence of smoking in the movies has declined in recent years, the presence of smoking in a youth-oriented cartoon like Rango underscores the need for Hollywood to take stronger, mandatory action to protect our children.
‘It’s time for the Motion Picture Association of America to require an R-rating for movies that depict smoking’.
In 2007, thirty-one state Attorney Generals wrote to Paramount and other movie companies, warning them about the dangers of on-screen smoking.
‘Each time a member of the industry releases another movie that depicts smoking, it does so with the full knowledge of the harm it will bring to children who watch it,’ they wrote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also publicly stated that smoking in films presents ‘one of the biggest media dangers to children’.
Paramount spokeswoman Virginia Lam said that at no point in Rango does the main character light up.
‘The images of smoking in the film…are portrayed by supporting characters and are not intended to be celebrated or emulated,’ she said.

‘Dissecting Anti-Smokers’ Brains’ author Michael McFadden joins Mike McConnell
Oftentimes, it is the smoker that gets criticized. But about the overly-ardent anti-smoker? Is everything okay upstairs?
News 720 WGN

Click here to open your media player and listen.

Smoking in the movies: 5th hand smoke?

July 5,2010
Paul Bergen

In the ludicrously titled Movies Downplay Smoking Risk anti-tobacco activists once again try to formulate arguments for removing the very sight of people smoking. The title of the press release (because this qualifies as news in some quarters) in its departure from any connection to reality signals the tenor of the article itself. In short, just because movies do not explicitly lay out the potential harms associated with smoking does not mean they are downplaying the risk. In fact, though granted that characters do keep smoking in the movies, they rarely acknowledge the pleasure and if they talk about it at all, they almost always say something about how these things will kill them.
Carl has already written at length about some aspects of smoking in the movies (see Avatar, smoking and crazy attitudes) but I hope to bring up a few other points here.
First of all, why the insistence on the big screen when the small screen is in every household and you (and your children) can watch shows like Mad Men which have hardly a scene without some smoking going on? Of course, Mad Men accurately mirrors the smoking prevalence of the time. It is television as a thoughtful, realistic and educational medium.
Contrast that with the movie Thank You for Smoking which managed to take a pretty good book and eviscerate it somewhat by making a supposedly anti-smoking movie about smoking but without any smoking on screen. Since there was no actual smoking in the film, it contained fewer negative images of smoking than most films and so ended up rather toothless.
Imagine for a moment an alternative future where part of a strong nudge to move people to public transportation included demonizing personal transportation such as cars. Would it seem reasonable to remove all images of cars from movies past and present and place anti-car ads before any film that might include a car? Given the number of car loving movies this could be quite the challenge as opposed to smoking wherein I cannot remember one love letter to the practice.
And yet we have not only this campaign to remove historical data from motion pictures but have already seen smoking removed from old cartoons, famous photographs of Churchill and Sartre, and even postage stamps.
But on to point number two. What makes smoking so special? If as Cheryl Healton notes “the nation’s youth are still exposed to billions of toxic tobacco impressions”, how many images of murder are they exposed to? I worry more for the effects of continual exposure to the juvenile and insipid messages informing so many films, the repetition of basic tropes that do not reflect reality but in fact are quite counterproductive to producing a thoughtful citizen.
This particular imbalance struck me quite forcibly when Carl told me about watching 8mm (the Nicholas Cage film) on Thai television with scenes of degradation and torture intact but the cigarette carefully pixilated out.
According to research, more than one-third to one-half of youth smoking initiation can be traced to exposure to smoking in films, a conclusion supported by the National Cancer Institute. The landmark 1998 Master Settlement Agreement recognized the enormous impact film has on our culture and banned paid tobacco product placement in movies. Despite those efforts, smoking in movies continues to recruit more than 180,000 new adolescent smokers each year.
Love this. Does this mean that removing smoking from the movies would actually have an effect? So by that logic, the movies must be creating many of the criminals out there -heist movies fueling bank robberies and slasher movies driving random killing? But the statement about movies “recruiting” smokers is really pushing the envelope. Portrayal of a common activity is not recruiting in any sense.
Healton said. “they have only labeled a small fraction of films with smoking, suggesting that smoking is not a problem.” “It’s time for the major studios and theater chains that control the rating system to adopt the R-rating for future smoking and resolve this long-standing problem once and for all,” said Dr. Stanton Glantz, Professor of Medicine at UCSF and director of the Smoke Free Movies project. “After 80 years, Hollywood should stop smoking around kids.”
Glantz, who has been at war with reality for most of his career is taking it to the movies. What little sense of reality they have he would like to see removed. Even the most fantastic of movies grounds itself somewhat in reality and he seems to wants the medium to construct an alternate reality, a place where smoking never happened and never will. He sees this as an assault on the youth but the real assault is his on reality and history, on seeing the world as it is, on accepting human behavior rather than demonizing and removing it from the public eye.
And finally, the ultimate travesty is to call certain wish fulfilling proposals evidence based.
Legacy has joined a host of prominent health and parents organizations – including the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and more – to urge the MPAA and its member studios to adopt four evidence-based policies that would help prevent hundreds of thousands of U.S. adolescents from starting to smoke and avert tens of thousands of future tobacco deaths. The Smoke Free Movies policy solutions include:
Add strong and effective anti-smoking ads before all movies in which tobacco is depicted.
Certify that nothing of value was received in exchange for the depiction of tobacco in a movie.
End all brand appearances.
Rate any new movie with smoking as R.
Somehow if a movie receives something of value for depicting tobacco that that will encourage smoking? Wow. The others are a little more likely but there is no real evidence supporting them.

Ultimately this attack on tobacco in films has nothing to do with people smoking. It is an attack on history and verisimilitude. It is a further erosion of a medium already sadly lacking in any dedication to social realities. It is an aesthetic affront on adult sensibilities.

It is just plain ridiculous.

Junk Food Not Just at the Concession Stand, It’s Also on the Movie
Screen, Study Finds
By Bill Hendrick, WebMD Health News
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 9, 2010 — Children are blasted with images of non-nutritious
foods and beverages when they go to the movies, a new study says.
Companies pay to have their products used conspicuously in movies, and
items pushed are overwhelmingly low in nutrients and high in calories,
researchers say in a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
For the study, raters viewed 200 movies that cashed in big at the box
office, scoring the top 20 hits each year between 1996 and 2005 based
on sightings of brand foods, beverages, and food retail
The study found that 69% of the movies had at least one food,
beverage, or food retail establishment brand placement. Movies rated
PG-13 and R scored significantly higher on brand placements than
movies in other categories, the authors write.
The researchers, including Lisa A. Sutherland, PhD, of Dartmouth
Medical School, say that their study is the first to provide a
comprehensive analysis of food and beverage product placement in
popular movies. Candy and salty snacks were common product placements,
as were sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food eateries.
The researchers say that:
Candy/confections (26%) and salty snacks (21%) were the most prevalent
food brands, and sugar-sweetened beverages (76%) were the most
prevalent beverage brands.
Most of the placements were for high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods or
product lines.
Products were placed most often in comedies, action-adventure, and horror
Soft drink, chips, and fast food brands dominated PG and PG-13 movies.
McDonald’s and Burger King were responsible for one-fifth of all fast
food brand placements.
Sugar-sweetened drinks accounted for one of every four brand
placements identified by researchers.
The researchers say trained scorers spotted 1,180 brand placements in
138 movies, and most were for foods or product lines with little
nutritional value.
“Our findings demonstrate that popular movies provide yet another
medium through which energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods are promoted to
children and adolescents,” the authors write.
Product placement is far from new, but it didn’t attract much
attention until the early 1980s, when placement of Reese’s Pieces
candies in the movie E.T. resulted in a 65% jump in sales within three
The authors say although “the prevalence of food and beverage
advertising in children’s television programming has been widely
studied, little is known about product placement in movies and how it
might affect the food and beverage preferences and choices of children
and adolescents.”
According to the study, six companies — PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle
US, McDonald’s, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, and Burger King — accounted
for 45% of all brand placements in the movies viewed.
The authors say that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo “have longstanding
commitments not to advertise their soft drink products during
children’s television programming,” but their items “regularly
appeared in movies, especially those rated for children and
SOURCES: Sutherland, L. Pediatrics, published online Feb. 8, 2010.
News release, Pediatrics.

Property Rights for all include Smokers Rights! Alice in Wonderland: Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.

James Cameron defends smoking scenes in Avatar
January 5, 2010
It was obviously going too swimmingly well for James Cameron and his big screen return with blockbusting behemoth, Avatar. The sci-fi epic starring Sam Worthington was happily breaking box office records galore, getting people bigging up 3D cinema and earning some Oscar hype, but now the inevitable backlash has begun, taking the unexpected form of cigarettes. Yes, scenes starring Sigourney Weaver’s scientist Dr Grace Augustine taking a drag have caused outrage with health experts, Stanton A. Glantz, the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education complaining that, “This is like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply,” on the damage done to his Smoke Free Movies initiative. However, never one to sit back and take it, Cameron’s come back fighting.
To defend his movie, the Oscar-winner penned a considered defence to The New York Times which printed his comments. During which he argued that Sigourney’s character is obnoxious and so not meant to be aspirational, and as such audiences shouldn’t want to emulate her behaviour. Likewise, he adds that being so enthralled with her avatar; Grace doesn’t care much for her human body and so abuses it.
But where Jim really gets into his groove, is with his musings on the role of smoking in film. “Speaking as an artist, I don’t believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke,” he explains. “Movies should reflect reality. If it’s O.K. for people to lie, cheat, steal and kill in PG-13 movies, why impose an inconsistent morality when it comes to smoking?”
He goes on to call for a “more complex set of criteria” when dealing with smoking onscreen, and believes this is the only way forward for the artistic community. He goes on to conclude: “Smoking is a filthy habit which I don’t support, and neither, I believe, does Avatar.”
And so there you have it. Here at Boxwish we agree with Jim and, while we’re also not looking to get the masses sparking up, believe there’s no point in white-washing humanity like this. However, there have been some interesting points raised by online commenters. Does the film properly suggest Grace’s disdain for her human body? Is the sight of an intellectual scientist distracting, especially in an environment, such as a science lab, where it would be banned? And are there other potentially less controversial ways of suggesting a character is obnoxious?
Let us know what you think on the whole to smoke or not to smoke debate.

“R” Movie Ratings For Smoking Don’t Teach Children Not To Smoke
The National Cancer Institute, our country’s “leading federal agency on cancer research,” recently released a report entitled “Monograph 19 – The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use,” which found that “depictions of smoking in movies and tobacco marketing promote youth smoking.” (“Govt. Report: Movies Really Do Get Teens To Smoke”) Many tobacco-control activists are hoping that this report is the “impetus for decision-makers to take the bold step to remove smoking from youth-rated films [G, PG, and PG-13], once and for all.”
Here we go again with parents trying to place their responsibilities onto someone else, in this case the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as well as film studios. As a parent, you are responsible for your children until they are 18 years of age, not the tobacco and film industries, and this includes what you allow your children to watch and whether or not they smoke underage. Set rules for your children and explain your reasons for them. If you have developed a good relationship with your children throughout the years, they will ultimately obey your instructions.
We as parents must stop the mentality that everybody else has to parent our children. Demanding that the MPAA give an “R” rating to every film that contains smoking is just ridiculous, especially considering that there is so much leniency in PG-13 movies when it comes to crassness, sex, and violence. (“Smoke Free Movies: The Solution”) Smoking contributes a great deal to characters at times, even in children’s movies if the character is the villain: Can you imagine Cruella De Vil without smoke wafting up from her long cigarette holder?
We can’t protect children from everything, and we shouldn’t try: If you shelter your children too much, you run the risk of them not having all of the tools they need to navigate the world when they become responsible for themselves as adults at age 18. Expose your children to the world in a manner that is age appropriate, supervised, and constructive so that you can teach them the best way to wade through all of the challenging situations and choices they eventually will have to face.
As they age, children have to develop a healthy relationship with movies, meaning they have to understand that movies are just movies. Typically, film is meant to be art, entertainment, education, or a mixture of the three. Parents need to explain to their children that movies aren’t reality or a good reference when it comes to making major life decisions, such as whether or not to try smoking.
Please parents: let’s start acting like the adults in our relationships with our children. They need the direction, limits, and love only we can provide.

Smoking in ‘Land of the Lost’ Brings Reprimand to a Studio
October 18, 2009
The American Medical Association Alliance, a volunteer arm of the powerful health organization that focuses on family issues, on Friday released its scorecard for the depiction of smoking in mass-appeal summer movies. Universal was the biggest offender because of “Land of the Lost…”
…The studio did catch a break, however. In May, the organization, working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, announced that the studio found to be the biggest smoking offender would be publicly shamed on nearby billboards. But billboard vendors throughout Los Angeles – which the alliance said are heavily dependent on entertainment industry advertising – refused to run the ad, according to Ms. Kyler.
“It’s a sad day when movie studios can promote smoking to youth, but public health advocates cannot find a billboard in the whole city of Los Angeles that will run an ad to alert the public about the problem,” she said.

July 16, 2008
NEW YORK — Could Mamma Mia! be the most dangerous movie of the year?
This week, Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA) offered an early review that gave the fizzy ABBA musical two stiff thumbs down because of a scene in which four characters – three men in late middle age, who really should know better, and one nubile young bride-to-be – leap joyfully from the cliff of a verdant Greek isle into the water 10 metres below.

Scene Smoking Still Claims that Tobacco Kills 124,000 Young People A Year; We Can Safely Conclude that They Do Not Care About the Facts
July 10, 2008
Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails continues to claim on its web site that 124,000 young people die from smoking every year. This is obviously a false claim, since few people die from smoking before age 35-40, and certainly not 124,000 a year. Even worse, I made the organization aware of this mistake nearly nine months ago, and it has refused to correct or remove the claim for the past 9 months.
While I can certainly understand how a group could make a mistake (and I’ve made plenty of my own), I do not understand how a mistake like this could remain uncorrected for nearly 9 months. Unfortunately, it creates the public appearance that either: (1) it is not a mistake and the group actually is lying to promote its goals; or (2) it is a mistake but the organization simply doesn’t care about the truth and about scientific accuracy.
Certainly there is enough truthful information about the insidiousness of smoking in the movies and its effects on youth smoking behavior that we shouldn’t need to manufacture false claims anad deceive the public in order to garner support for policies to get smoking out of movies seen by children. By disseminating false information to the public, we are not only doing something that is unnecessary, but we are also risking the scientific reputation and credibility of the entire movement. That hardly seems worth the risk.
This commentary appears today on my tobacco policy blog, at: .
Eight and a half months after pointing out directly to Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails that a central “fact” on its Scene Smoking web site was incorrect, the “fact” remains unchanged. The Scene Smoking web site of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails still claims that: “Smoking Kills About 340 Young People A Year.”
This claim, which is equivalent to stating that smoking kills 124,000 young people each year, is blatantly absurd, and false on its face. Obviously, smoking doesn’t kill 124,000 young people each year.
In its communications with me, Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails has never argued the point. They have not defended the claim. Instead, they have maintained that they intend to change it but that the web master is away and unavailable, and that the claim cannot be changed without the web master.
The Rest of the Story
At this point, almost nine months after first reporting this “mistake” to the organization, it is becoming apparent to me that Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails just doesn’t care about whether the information on its web site is accurate or not. What else can I possibly conclude, given that they have known about this blatant factual error for more than eight months and have still failed to correct it?
It appears that this anti-smoking group, like an increasing number of such groups in my experience, believes that the cause is so important that the facts really don’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether you are telling the public the truth, because the cause is so important and valuable. The ends justifies the means. It is acceptable to communicate false information to the public because the ultimate cause is a good one. When you are made aware that information you are communicating is false, it is not important to correct it. You can get to it whenever you get around to it. Let people continue to be misled and deceived. It’s OK, because this is all for a good cause.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t accept this attitude. I don’t know what is more important to the tobacco control movement than its scientific integrity. Moreover, I believe we have an ethical obligation to communicate accurate information to the public. Certainly, we make mistakes, but when that occurs, you correct them as soon as possible. Eight and a half months and counting is not “as soon as possible.”
This also leads me to question whether the original claim is actually a mistake. It seems difficult to believe that the organization could have made a simple careless error and ended up with the claim that smoking kills about 340 young people a day. It’s not like a simple typographical error or careless construction of the statement could have resulted in the erroneous nature of the claim. It’s a pretty simple and straightforward assertion, and it’s hard to believe that one could make such a claim without really meaning it, or that one could fail to be aware of what one is actually asserting by such a statement.
Add to this the organization’s failure to correct the statement and one is left with the impression that this may not be a mistake, but that it may be an intentional effort to deceive. In fact, one could argue that since the organization was aware of the inaccuracy of the claim eight and a half months ago, its continuing dissemination of the claim to the public represents intentional deception.
For the past eight and a half months, this certainly cannot be an example of an unknowing deception of the public. It is now being done in a deliberate way. The organization has apparently made a choice to leave the claim on the web site for the past eight and a half months.
I don’t mean to pick on this one organization, but I think this is an important story because it demonstrates why I have come to believe that the tobacco control movement largely doesn’t care any more about its scientific accuracy. It is truly becoming clear to me that the cause is more important than anything, even the truth. If we need to tell lies to accomplish our goals, so be it, because the cause is just so important.
I find it ironic that much of the basis for tobacco control is the premise that the tobacco companies have been communicating misleading and inaccurate information to the public for many years. Interestingly, there are few examples of outright material misrepresentations of facts by the tobacco industry. Mostly, the examples are those of misleading portrayal of information. But here, we have an example of outright dishonesty. I would argue that the statement in question is not merely misleading; it is demonstrably false.
Do we really need to stoop down so low, below the level of even the tobacco industry, to make our points to the public?
Michael Siegel, MD, MPH
Associate Chair of Academics
Social and Behavioral Sciences Department
Boston University School of Public Health
715 Albany Street, Crosstown Center – 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02118
FAX 617-638-4483

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