http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/20/figh … ovies.htmlEarlier this year, Stanton A. Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and James Cameron, director of the science-fiction thriller Avatar, got into a public sparring match over Hollywood and cigarettes. Glantz, who has been furiously campaigning against smoking in PG-13 movies since he launched the Smoke Free Movies project in 2001, told The New York Times in January that scenes in Avatar depicting an environmental scientist puffing away on a cigarette were comparable to someone putting “a bunch of plutonium in the water supply.” In an e-mailed statement to the Times, Cameron shot back that Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver, was never intended to be a role model for teenagers. Smoking is a filthy habit, he wrote, but “I don’t believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke. Movies should reflect reality.”
Now, nearly eight months later, Glantz is back on the attack against Avatar and every other Hollywood flick showcasing cigarettes. And this time he’s got the backing of the U.S. government. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new data compiled by Glantz that tracks smoking in top-grossing movies between 1991 and 2009. The study, appearing in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), shows that the number of tobacco incidents (defined as “the use or implied use of a tobacco product by an actor” onscreen) has dropped significantly in recent years—from a peak of almost 4,000 in 2005 to just under 2,000 last year. But 54 percent of PG-13 films released in 2009 still featured smoking. “We really need to fix this once and for all,” says Glantz.
But what he and other public-health authorities—including the World Health Organization—really want is zero smoking in kid-rated movies, and an R rating if cigarettes do appear onscreen. “It’s like frontal nudity or foul language,” not an all-out ban on cinematic smoking, says Glantz. “You can do it, but not in movies for kids.” If that standard were applied, movies like Eat Pray Love, Salt, and Dinner for Schmucks would shift from PG-13 to R. But the policy provides an exception for depictions of historical smokers, like Edward R. Murrow, who puffed away in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck. Glantz says changing the rating system would cut total youth exposure to smoking in movies by about half. And there’d be an economic incentive not to feature cigarettes for the industry, too: a 2005 study on movie profitability found that the return on investment for R-rated movies is 29 percent, compared with 44 percent for PG-13 movies and 73 percent for PG movies.
I had my first smoke when I was 14 in high school. I started smoking because my friends and the girls I liked did. I didn't start smoking because I saw a movie character smoke a cigarette while killing some Russians.
Anyway, wouldn't trying to stop this
seem more important then morally crusading against cigarettes in movies?