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Hollywood's smoking gun - a conspiracy with cigarette companies.

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posted on Sep, 14 2004 @ 08:35 PM
The issue of smoking and films is one of those stories that for the most part gets under reported. The effect of movies on society and youth is well documented however. In various threads on ATS there are discussions on smoking and whether it should be banned etc. The common thread between all of this is that nobody can deny that smoking is bad for you, so should hollywood be allowed to surreptiously promote smoking to people, especially children and teens. Ask any child or teen who their hero is and you will get a movie star as an answer. We pay a lot of money to see some pretty bad movies, unfortunately we also get indoctrination as a free add on.

In the top films of the 1950s, there were on average 10.7 smoking "incidents" per hour of screen time. This is when a character takes a puff, an ashtray is prominently displayed, or a tobacco ad appears. In the 1980s incidents had dropped to 4.9 times per hour. But by 2002, the number of smoking incidents had risen to 10.9 per hour in high grossing films, many of which were rated PG and PG13. Repeated studies have linked lighting up in movies to increased smoking in teens. Humphrey Bogart was 58 when he died of throat and esophageal cancer. Other stars of that era lost to smoking : Betty Grable, Gary Cooper, Yul Brynner and Sammy Davis, Junior.

Smoking and Rating of Films.

"If Nicolas Cage (search ) lights a cigarette in a movie, Hollywood's ratings board should respond as if he used a profanity, according to authors of a new study that criticizes glamorous images of smoking in movies rated for children under 17.

Nearly 80 percent of movies rated PG-13 feature some form of tobacco use, while 50 percent of G and PG rated films depict smoking, said Stanton Glantz, co-author of the study, which examined 775 U.S. movies over the past five years.

"No one is saying there should never be any smoking in the movies," Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said Tuesday at a press conference at Hollywood High School. "What we're simply asking for is that smoking be treated by Hollywood as seriously as it treats offensive language."

"In 1983 Hamish Maxwell, president of Phillip Morris International (and soon chairman of the board) highlighted the importance of smoking in the movies in a speech to his marketeers:

"Smoking is being positioned as an unfashionable, as well as unhealthy, custom. We must use every creative means at our disposal to reverse this destructive trend. I do feel heartened at the increasing number of occasions when I go to a movie and see a pack of cigarettes in the hands of the leading lady. This is in sharp contrast to the state of affairs just a few years ago when cigarettes rarely showed up in cinema. We must continue to exploit new opportunities to get cigarettes on screen and into the hands of smokers."

That's why the tobacco industry has paid actors, studios and other Hollywood players to get cigarettes and other tobacco products in the movies. Indeed, the studios have actively invited these pay-offs.

In the late 1980's, when Philip Morris was caught paying to get Marlboros in the movie "Superman II" and Lark cigarettes in the James Bond movie "License to Kill," Congress threatened to make the practice illegal. To fend off legislation, in 1989 the tobacco industry said it would stop the payola.

The tobacco industry has to report its advertising and promotion expenses to the Federal Trade Commission, which then produces an annual report to Congress In 2002, the FTC reported:

"Cigarette manufacturers reported that they paid no money or other form of compensation to have any cigarette brand names or tobacco products appear in any motion pictures or television shows. This practice has been reported as unfunded since 1989."

Secret tobacco industry documents tell a different story: In 1991 RJ Reynolds was still paying the public relations firm of Rogers and Cowan $12,500 a month to work with Hollywood to get smoking into the movies. These activities seemed successful; Rogers and Cowan's monthly report for April 1991 listed placements of Camels, Salems, Winstons, and other brands in seven films, including the PG-13 films Prelude to a Kiss with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan and The Babe with John Goodman. Rogers and Cowan also reported that it "declined" several films because they were made-for-TV movies or could associate cigarettes with death."

"Hollywood urged to quit

The screenwriter behind the famous smoking scene in Basic Instinct has throat cancer and wants cinema to stop glamourising the lethal habit, writes Duncan Campbell

A while ago, a friend who is an esteemed film editor here mentioned that he and his fellow film editors would sometimes go to a movie and click their fingers every time there was an edit. I had never really thought about how many edits there were in a film - hundreds and hundreds as it turns out - but I soon found myself clicking silently and annoyingly through every film I watched. Sometimes I would lose the plot of the film so caught up was I in noting the frequency of the edits. Try it when you are next watching a film on television. I bet you find it addictive.

Fortunately, that phase has passed but only, I fear, to be replaced by a new one. Last week, the veteran Hollywood scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas wrote an extraordinary mea culpa in the New York Times. Eszterhas, who wrote Basic Instinct, Flashdance, Sliver and Fist, admitted in the piece to being "an accomplice in the murder of untold numbers of human beings".

The reason for his confession was that, as a defiant smoker from childhood, he had often inserted smoking scenes into his screenplays and felt that by so doing he may well have encouraged young people to smoke. "A cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star is a gun aimed at a 12- or 14-year-old," as he put it."

[edit on 15-9-2004 by Mynaeris]

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