Smoke Free Movies, a project that aims to "reduce the U.S. film industry's usefulness to Big Tobacco's domestic and global marketing" has started running advertisements in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety about the movie Avatar. The ads state that,
For every $100 million it earns at the box office, Avatar ... will deliver an estimated forty million tobacco impressions to theater audiences. By the time it reaches Blu-Ray, VOD and broadband, Avatar's smoking scenes could be worth the equivalent of $50 million in broadcast cigarette ads. Of course, the United States outlawed cigarette commercials forty years ago. Did Big Tobacco pay for this? Taxpayers did. ... Avatar's tobacco imagery scored $30 million in public subsidies, according to the L.A. Times. The public is not only charged for 3D glasses to watch tobacco promotion, it pays for it again at tax time.
The information about taxpayers subsidizing smoking in big-screen movies comes from a November, 2009 report by the University of California San Francisco titled "Taxpayer Subsidies for US Films with Tobacco Imagery" that examined taxpayer subsidies for youth-rated films (G, PG and PG-13). The study revealed that 41 U.S. states compete for film projects by offering taxpayer-funded, public subsidies to motion picture producers, and that in 2008, states picked up about one quarter of total film production costs. The paper estimated that 62 percent of state film subsidies go to films that portray smoking. Studies show that there is more smoking in movies now than ever before, and that smoking in movies does, in fact, encourage kids to smoke.