Tobacco Road Continues

Our previous post may have caused readers to wonder, “Who sits around counting the elapsed seconds, when a character in a movie smokes?” Wonder no more:

A team of young people reviews the tobacco content of all top-grossing US films each week. Consistent research protocols and rigorous quality control build the data set driving the global Smokefree Movies campaign.

Smokefree Movies was founded in 2001 by Prof. Stanton A. Glantz. The website offers many useful pages for the convenience of researchers, such as a collection of more than 300 media articles on smoking in films.

There are plenty of charts, and a curious person can drill down for specific answers. For instance: Since 2002, and taking into consideration films of all ratings, which producer is responsible for the most cinematically portrayed smoking? (Scott Rudin) Which producer has been in charge of movies with the least amount of smoking? (Many, many producers are tied for that politically correct position.)

The organization says, “Smoking in movies kills in real life.” Several policy solutions are laid out: With only two possible exceptions, any smoking in a movie should be rated R, which comes with a financial cost to the studio. Producers should file legally-binding affidavits certifying that no payola was involved. No brand identification should be shown in any films, no matter what age group, period.

These two are unlikely to succeed:

Studios and theaters should run a proven-effective, anti-smoking advertisement (not produced by a tobacco company) immediately before any media production with any tobacco presence, in any distribution channel, regardless of the work’s age classification.

Future media productions with tobacco imagery should be made ineligible for generous tax credits and other public subsidies.

Sadly, even though specific brands are not shown, plenty of smoking can be observed in media, as opponents point out the pervasive and alarming rise of tobacco use in on-demand or streaming visual content. We are not going to name names, but one of the culprits rhymes with Petmix and another sounds very much like LuHu.

So we’re talking about shows watched by 15- to 24-year-olds, and 79 percent of the favorite shows are said to “depict smoking prominently.” The Truth Initiative makes a very audacious statement that seems like it would need a lot of proving:

In fact, 37 percent of new youth smoking initiation in the U.S. can be attributed to exposure to smoking in the movies.

When they talk amongst themselves, industry insiders refer to the new recruits as “replacement smokers,” who are needed to make up for the 1,300 people who die each day from tobacco-related disease. Apparently, the industry feels that a rising tide lifts all boats. If they can’t advertise their own brand, they can certainly promote smoking in general, with the expectation that a certain percentage of the resulting tobacco sales will land in their pockets.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “About Us,”
Source: “Policy Solutions,”
Source: “New report from truth initiative illustrates alarming rise of tobacco use in streaming content,”, 03/16/18
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski on Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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