Be Careful to Leave Some Room for TV Smoking


I just finished an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation about smoking in films. The anti-smoking activist Stanton Glantz was on immediately before me, and he stuck by his claim that most teenagers who smoke do so because they saw it in the movies. He said the best estimate (based on a 2003 Lancet study) is that cinematic smoking accounts for 52 percent of smoking initiation. The host, Neal Conan, seemed taken aback at this assertion. Undeterred, Glantz said that number may understate the true influence of movies because it excludes the impact of peer pressure, which is itself shaped by movies.

Does Glantz really believe that eliminating smoking from movies would cut the number of new smokers in half? That if tobacco advertising, which he says accounts for 34 percent of smoking, also were eliminated, the smoking rate among teenagers would plunge by (at least) 86 percent? Or does he just think the public is stupid enough to accept these pseudoscientific claims at face value?

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  1. I started smoking because I needed something to do when I was getting the rush from the mescaline during high school.

  2. Yeah,

    I smoked all that dope in college because of the slick advertisements the dealers had.

    I think its the latter. That guy is basically saying that he is smart and the rest of us are stupid and will beleive anything thing he says no matter how rediculous.

  3. To beat a dead horse:
    With low levels of understanding of what is valid evidence due to the piss poor teaching of science, yeah, I think the public will buy it!

  4. Well, I always do what I see in the movies. Tomorrow I’m dressing up as a “transvestite” a la Aeon Flux.

  5. As an ex-smoker, I have no use for smoking, myself. And I have little sympathy for cigarette companies. While I’m ambivalent to laws restricting smoking in restaurants, as a fella taking the family out on a Saturday night, it’s nice to come home with my 2-year old NOT smelling like stale ashtrays.

    But people who twist facts and lie and obfuscate to further their cause really gets my britches in a twist. Who does he think he is…Dick Cheney?

  6. “Or does he just think the public is stupid enough to accept these pseudoscientific claims at face value?”


    wait a sec. what’s the topic: ID? Global warming? caloric intake? oh. smoking.


  7. Madpad, you just did an excellent job of explaining why we don’t need these kinds of laws in the first place. Lots of people feel the same way you do, which gives restaurant owners an incentive to go smoke-free voluntarily – they want to please their customers. It is easy to pick up a list of smoke-free restaurants or simply call the restaurant and ask what their policy is. Most of the nice, upscale ones in my city are smoke-free already, and we don’t have a ban. These smoking bans aren’t giving us anything we didn’t already have – smoke-free restaurants – and are an infringement upon the property rights of the restaurant owners.

    Besides, if I don’t go to a restaurant that allows people to smoke, how the hell am I going to avoid the 2-year-old you are bringing in?

  8. I just read the Lancet study, here’s the methodology

    “We assessed exposure to smoking shown in movies
    in 3547 adolescents, aged 10?14 years, who reported in a
    baseline survey that they had never tried smoking. Exposure
    to smoking in movies was estimated for individual
    respondents on the basis of the number of smoking
    occurrences viewed in unique samples of 50 movies, which were randomly selected from a larger sample pool of popular contemporary movies. We successfully re-contacted
    2603 (73%) students 13?26 months later for a follow-up interview to determine whether they had initiated smoking.”

    What jumped out at me was this:

    “Students who reported any cigarette
    smoking (just a few puffs, one to 100 cigarettes, more than 100 cigarettes) on the follow-up survey were classified as having initiated smoking during the follow-up”

    Fun with scare stats as usual.

  9. This is such a crock of shit. As someone educated in science, I NEVER believe the results of “studies” like this. There are too many variables to ever answer such a question. Far too many people that consider themselves scientists are not. They’re often nothing but ideologues with grants (given to them by other ideologues with money to grant).

  10. What caused people to take up smoking before the invention of the motion picture? Smoking flick books?

  11. 13-26 months? Yeah, I saw somebody smoking 2 years ago in a movie so now I’m hooked.

    And hasn’t the amount of cinematic smoking already declined significantly in the last decade? I’ve mentioned this before, but generally only bad people in movies smoke anymore.

    Certainly, peer pressure plays an important part in a teenagers life, but I’m really sick of people who think that kids are these helpless babies mindlessly bending to the whims of advertising. Of course, we do train them to be that way through the public school system…

  12. I’m going to start responding to all these guys in the same way. Ban minors from movie theatres. Ban televisions from residences that house minors. Put the responsibility where it belongs if they want to start banning things so much.

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