Smoking in the Movies: Under-the-Radar Cigarette Advertising?

A meta-study published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that viewing movie smoking scenes is a significant factor in smoking among older teens and young adults. In 1999, researchers interviewed thousands of 10- to 14-year-olds, assessing their smoking status and exposure to images of smoking, via movies. Follow-up interviews in 2006 and 2007 determined whether the former non-smokers had taken up the habit and compared their smoking status to their earlier exposure to movie smoking scenes. Those with the highest level of movie smoking exposure were twice as likely to have become established smokers as those with the least amount of exposure, even after controlling for a wide range of other factors. Researchers defined "established smoking" as having smoked more than 100 cigarettes in one's lifetime. They estimated that 34.9% of the youths' established smoking could be attributed to movie exposure. Smoking in the movies has come under renewed scrutiny. A 2005 study found that the amount of smoking depicted in movies diminished steadily from 1950 to 1990, but then increased so rapidly that by 2002, smoking in the movies was just as common as it was back in 1950. A 2006 study found that in recent years, depictions of smoking have shifted from R-rated to PG-13-rated films, and that major studio pictures account for 90% of movie smoking scenes. The 2006 study authors concluded that major film studios are "delivering the most new adolescent smokers to the tobacco industry."


As a former ad exec working on Reynolds' Camel brand, I was approached by a movie maker to get behind a script financially and shown several ways in which Camel cigs would be integrated into the movie.

My guess is that it was nothing new then. Probably a long established relationship between movie makers and tobacco companies. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that the shit works.

Todd Anthony

Hollywood studios and tobacco companies began working together in 1927. Two-thirds of top stars in 1930s and 1940s had cigarette endorsement contracts, brokered by their studios in exchange for national print and radio advertising paid for by the tobacco companies. In the 1950s and 1960s, the tobacco industry was a leading owner and sponsor of network TV shows. After tobacco commercials were banned from TV and radio in 1970, the companies launched systematic product placement campaigns involving hundreds of Hollywood films — more than a third of them kid-rated. Today, film studios owned by the best-known media companies still resist effective steps to block tobacco industry influence.

This history is documented in once-secret tobacco industry files uncovered during lawsuits. To learn more about , visit this authoritative UC-San Francisco web site:

A smoking ban sends smokers outdoors where kids can see the smokers smoking.

If the smokers were inside a tavern smoking, the kids could not see them smoking, for the most part.

So do the smoking bans create the same problems as the movies are accused of creating, that is, poor adult behavior that serves as a poor model for the children?

If the kids are in school, that cuts down on the available time to see adults smoking outdoors -- unless the smokers are hanging around outside the classroom windows, that is.

And at other times, seeing smokers smoking outdoors is less directly harmful to the kids than sharing the same enclosed space with them, whether it's a tavern or a McDonalds.

Yes i would agree with you mostly the professional smokers should not smoke at the public places or schools.....

Hilarious. Hypocrisy is always somehow funny to observe.
How many films, if not beyond countable, glorify war, and "advertise" killing as a legitimate and "cool" Problem Solving tool?
How many "advertise" Big Bad cars as "cool" too? How many "advertise" psychopathic lack of empathy towards others. And on and on.

We need some films that A) show the horrors of how the cigarette industry got legally permitted (often by those who now don the halo of "no smoking") to adulterate tobacco and typical cigarettes with some of the worst of the worst industrial substances...pesticides, dioxin-producing chlorine, fire-causing burn accelerants, addiction-enhancing substances, carcinogenic radiation from phosphate tobacco fertilizers...and so forth, and B) show that plain tobacco, as has been used on these shores for about ten thousand years, has not been indicted for anything that merits Public Interest Prohibitions, and has indeed multiple medicinal properties (as does cannabis).

We need a film showing how Big Chlorine (pharms, pesticides, petrochems, etc.), mostly, concocted the entire "anti smoking" crusade to blame others...mostly the victims... for the effects of its chemicals (in cigarettes or elsewhere), and to scapegoat the conveniently "sinful" public-domain, unpatented tobacco plant.
The film could be part of a series under the heading "Industrial War on Nature"...added to others about war on organics, war on cannabis, war on forests, war on wildlife, war on free speech about such things, and ...on and on.

Why don't you start by providing some evidence that Big Chlorine "concocted the entire 'anti smoking' crusade"? I've heard this mantra repeated dozens of times, mostly in relation to Big Pharma, but have yet to see any proof.

I find criminalizing soft drugs like cannabis and tobacco a poor solution for reasons I won't go into here. The best solution to the tobacco problem is strong regulation: tobacco companies should not be allowed to advertise or promote their products in any way whatsoever. To that end, they should not be treated like other companies; they should be treated as what they are, companies in the business of addicting and killing people.

As a start I propose the following: tobacco companies' books should be open to the public; we should know where every dime they spend goes. That would go a long way toward stopping the practice of promoting tobacco through third parties. Combine that with warnings on DVDs for movies showing smoking (that's where they get most of their revenue now) and I think you will find a lot less smoking in movies, which I agree is a very effective form of advertising (whether it is paid for or not).

I predict we would also see a lot fewer smokers' advocacy organizations and supposed "citizens groups" which promote the tobacco industry's agenda thinly veiled as issues of "freedom" and "choice."'_rights

I'll have to confirm that. I am was a smoker and after I finally quit I found it really difficult to cope with smoking scenes in movies. I was luck I got the support I needed from the close ones and I also had treatment at Narconon. The bottom line is that smoking scenes have a real impact on smokers.