Smoking in "Avatar": Necessary to "Reflect Reality"?

James Cameron's new blockbuster movie Avatar won a "black lung" rating for gratuitous smoking from the Web site, which rates motion pictures according to the amount of smoking they show. Avatar is a futuristic fantasy that takes place sometime in the 22nd century. In it, Sigourney Weaver plays an environmental scientist who puffs on cigarettes as she tries to save the moon Pandora. Cameron responded to the accusation of gratuitous smoking in Avatar by saying that smoking is a "filthy habit" that he does not support, but that smoking in movies is necessary to portray reality:

...[S]peaking as an artist, I don't believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke. Movies should reflect reality.

Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, says the smoking scenes in Avatar hand millions of dollars' worth of free advertising to cigarette makers, and points out that the very idea of a chain-smoking environmental scientist is in itself a gratuitous bit of fantasy.


The smoking was so out of character and out of time it raises the question of whether someone was paid for her character to smoke.

Perhaps I'm dense, but I didn't get the point Cameron says he was trying to make with Grace's smoking: that she didn't care for her human body, only for her avatar.

What I got was: here's a person under stress who's managing the stress with a substance. I wonder if the takeaway message for many viewers wouldn't be:"If you're a noble person, it's ok to abuse substances to keep on going." It's possible that some teens will copy Grace's smoking because they admire her?

Despite Mr Camerons, I wonder how much money the tobacco industry paid for the advertising? Made no sense in the context of the controlled environment on the planet to allow anyone to smoke.

So did James Cameron make the character decision purely on the basis of his creative impulses, or was it purely a business decision?

My first thought at the end of the Movie was...Did Sigourney only agree to do the movie only if she could smoke so she wouldn't have nicotine withdrawals on the set?

Futuristic smoking? No one else smoked in the movie, so why should Grace. This movie wasn't set in 1950, at time when everyone else smoked, so thats not it. There was no need to show independence or defiance like Kate Winslet's character Rose in Titanic, because, Grace was clearly the lead scientist. Again no. Grace smoked because she was a tough woman? Um, during the middle of the movie she was being very nice, and helpful to the lead character, as well as others, and was STILL smoking at that point. That must not be it either. Grace did not get cancer or anything, so there was no need to show a cause for that. I did not see any evidence in the movie to indicate that she did not care about her health, in fact she kept making sure the main character was eating and sleeping and such. Caring about others but not about herself makes no sense. Smoking in a high tech lab that was also highly air tight was basically a contradiction in terms and was quite dumb since it would contaminate the work. Her character was too smart and too dedicated to "Getting Samples" to let this habit continue. Pushing smoking on viewers? I never saw any brand names or Grace suggesting to others to smoke. Plus, most people here seem to be asking Why she was smoking, instead of going out to the store to buy a pack. So believing the Tobacco Companies were involved is quite a stretch, since it backfired. James Cameron didn't think about it? He worked on this movie for like 4 years, So, I think he noticed this at least once during production. It did not slip by. Was somebody killed by a smoker? Grace must have done it! OOPS, Wrong Movie! Grace was fidgety and needed to do something with her hands. With all those gadgets, and fabulous glowing creatures and plants to play with, she had plenty of better choices than smoking...

OK, I am running out of ideas, unless there are some that I can't think of...

The only thing that I can come up with is that Sigourney refused to have nicotine withdrawals on the set. But there is nicotine gum that she could have chewed, and I really don't believe that she is the kind of person to blackmail a Movie Production for her services over something like smoking...

So, I guess it was just pointless and completely unnecessary. But then why do it in the first place? I just don't get it.

Sigourney, Please just quit smoking and refuse to do so in future films. Because, I don't need these confusing Quirks distracting me from enjoying your films. Thanks!

What could possibly have caused James Cameron to be willing to make himself, S. Weaver and his movie Avatar not only look, but also be both Incredibly stupid and and incredibly evil by being willing to sell untold numbers of impressionable souls down the river of slavery to nicotine? It was hard to figure out, being that there was no brand placement used.

Perhap$ the an$wer can $imply be found in an article I came acro$$:

["I'm a smoker and I could not quit smoking," said John Cameron, brother of Oscar winning director James Cameron.
About the time James was releasing "Avatar," John decided to get healthy. He took his first puff of an e-cigarette and got hooked. Now he's CEO of Safecig, an e-cigarette company.]

This explains the enigma of why he was willing to almost ruin the movie with stupidity and probably why he lost best director for a movie that was in most other respects better than the movie that won. It was the shotgun approach, the more people hooked the greater the chance of pocketing a few more shekels. He deserved to lose for pandering to something that evil. Maybe what goes around really does come around.

I'm not sure you could really call this a plug for smoking if it shows Weaver's character unable to wait even a second when she comes out of her avatar link -- not really a positive portrayal. And later Sam Worthington's character grabs the cigarette out of her mouth, saying something like, "Get rid of this shit, then you can lecture me." Maybe Cameron was just trying to express his own ambivalence.