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Warnings
May 17, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

The Australian cigarette health warnings have pretty much filtered down to every retail packet that's bought now. They're pretty gruesome and some smoking acquaintances cover them up with stickers. I thought I'd have a look around and see what other countries warnings were like. None of them were pulling any punches except for Uruguay.
posted by tellurian (118 comments total)

 
Canada's warnings were featured at the Museum of Modern Art.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2006


I watched Good Night, and Good Luck a couple of nights ago and it struck me: smoking looks cool. Really, really cool.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:36 PM on May 17, 2006


It absolutely does, mr_roboto. It feels wonderful, too, just having a cigarette between your fingers. It is a little burning cylinder of pure style — every action is more dramatic when it's underlined with the slightest motion of a held cigarette. Smoke is floating silk. And the contrast between dark lipstick and a lit cigarette is utter beauty.

Uh... that being said, they're fucking gross and kill you. I'd like to smoke, but I don't. Once or twice a year tops.
posted by blacklite at 7:43 PM on May 17, 2006


I am in the process of quitting, but I miss smoking, especically now I am thinking about it. They are also putting gruesome warnings New Zealand cigarettes
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:45 PM on May 17, 2006


If smoking is so bad why do so many beautiful people do it? Speaking as a temporary smoker.
posted by econous at 7:51 PM on May 17, 2006


If smoking is so bad why do so many beautiful people do it?

Beautiful yes...for a little while. And then...
posted by slatternus at 7:55 PM on May 17, 2006


I've never liked antismoking ads that try to run with the line, "think smoking makes you look cool? Think again zomg!"

Smoking well does look cool. Fucking fluid dynamics, man. And it makes a good pause-filler—Good Night and Good Luck indeed.
posted by cortex at 7:58 PM on May 17, 2006


wow, some of those are pretty bad. I'd like to see some studies that show that they actually have an effect, though...

the teeth pictures are the by far the worst.
posted by rsanheim at 7:58 PM on May 17, 2006


Would anyone care for some Death?
(as previously discussed)
posted by Parannoyed at 8:00 PM on May 17, 2006


when will they start to put diseased pictures on alcohol and fast food? or even automobiles? i can't wait!
posted by brandz at 8:04 PM on May 17, 2006


I'd like to see some studies that show that they actually have an effect

I'm not sure they do have an effect. Smokers in Canada made nervous black humour jokes about them when they first appeared, and then the warnings simply became invisible. The decline the nunber of smokers has to do with a variety of other factors, but I'd personally guess the impact of the warnings has been minimal - in my completely unscientific opinion.
posted by slatternus at 8:05 PM on May 17, 2006


rsanheim, ask and ye shall receive.
posted by wilful at 8:05 PM on May 17, 2006


Here's an interesting cost-benefit analysis of the new warnings for Australia (compulsorily carried out as part of the new regulations). (word doc, 776 kb)
posted by wilful at 8:09 PM on May 17, 2006


The best Canadian cigarette warning.
posted by marxchivist at 8:09 PM on May 17, 2006


(Smoke, on the other hand, is generally just sort of a pain in the ass. And this is aside from the health concerns.)
posted by cortex at 8:11 PM on May 17, 2006


That's funny; I work at a retail business with big glass windows, in a college town, so every autumn I get to watch hot young freshmen prance by the windows. The instant I see a cigarette pop into a girl's mouth, my dick goes limp. I find cigarette smoking about as sexy as diarrhea.

Am I really the only one who has that reaction?
posted by Chasuk at 8:12 PM on May 17, 2006


I watched Good Night, and Good Luck a couple of nights ago and it struck me: smoking looks cool. Really, really cool.

No surprises, there: that was the intention.

No Hollywood product will be the same for you once you twig to the fact that the tobacco industry pays to put cigs in actors' hands, especially at crucial points in the drama.

They had an absoulute field day with Good Night & Good Luck, probably because of the opportunity to portray a workplace not yet affected by anti-smoking laws.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:13 PM on May 17, 2006


Are you suggesting the look of the Ed Murrow character's smoking was primarily affected not by the acting, direction, and cinematography, but by Big Tobacco?
posted by cortex at 8:16 PM on May 17, 2006


Chasuk - next time I see a creepy older man peering out at me from the window of his retail establishment, I'll be sure to light up a cigarette. I had no idea it was so easy to drive you away.
posted by mai at 8:17 PM on May 17, 2006


Chasuk, I've always found smoking to be a huge turn-off. Sure, with some cinematics and soft lighting, smoke can look cool in a movie, but in any situation vaguely approaching reality, it's always been quite gross.
posted by wilful at 8:18 PM on May 17, 2006


Smoking is damn glamourous
posted by isopraxis at 8:20 PM on May 17, 2006


They had an absoulute field day with Good Night & Good Luck, probably because of the opportunity to portray a workplace not yet affected by anti-smoking laws.

yes, the anti-smoking crusaders believe the darndest things.
posted by brandz at 8:24 PM on May 17, 2006


I don't know, mai -- to make it a fair test, offer to fellate me first, and then we'll see whether the cigarette has the same reaction.
posted by Chasuk at 8:31 PM on May 17, 2006


Am I really the only one who has that reaction?

No. I find smoking a huge turn-off. It really says something about a person's intelligence and character when they maintain a blatantly filthy and suicidal habit like that.
Seeing young girls smoke (and it's almost always the girls these days it seems) depresses the hell out of me.
posted by Pseudonumb at 8:35 PM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


It really says something about a person's intelligence and character when they maintain a blatantly filthy and suicidal habit like that.

Maybe they smoke because they're hoping for an early death and they need to cling to something.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:48 PM on May 17, 2006


While y'all might find smoking a huge turnoff. Enough people feel exactly the opposite way to justify selling it. (Link NSFW)
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:49 PM on May 17, 2006


It really says something about a person's intelligence and character when they maintain a blatantly filthy and suicidal habit like that.

Yup. All smokers are obviously very stupid and bad people.
posted by brina at 8:50 PM on May 17, 2006


If smoking is so bad why do so many beautiful people do it? Speaking as a temporary smoker.

Well they don't stay beautiful, do they? Look at the skin of a long-time smoker at 30 or 40, compare it to a non-smoker who keeps healthy at that age.

Pretty big diffrence, no.

----

Honestly these anti-smoking people really have the wrong idea. They shouldn't be trying to make smoking dangerous, they should be trying to make it look not cool. And people will always care more about their looks then their health.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 PM on May 17, 2006


I have about a half-a-pack a month habit (meaning six packs a year, or less) and I have to tell you few things go better every once in a while with bourbon and friends.
posted by Peter H at 8:57 PM on May 17, 2006


While y'all might find smoking a huge turnoff. Enough people feel exactly the opposite way to justify selling it. (Link NSFW)

Wow, those pictures are definetly a turnoff.

I think I have sort of a self-reinforcing dislike for smoking that's getting stronger. I especially hate the way the smell just clings to your clothes, and hair.

I've actually tried smoking a cig twice in my life (both in the past few months) One time I was trying to guilt a girl I knew into not doing it, and this other time I was with another girl who I always though of as this goody two-shoes and so of course I had to see her smoke. I did it as an 'ironic' thing

Both times I couldn't believe how bad it made my clothes -- and me -- smell. I really had to take a shower right away, even after taking my clothes off and putting them on the balcony, as I usually do after going to the bars.
posted by delmoi at 8:59 PM on May 17, 2006


Would it not be easier to just ban cigarettes, rather than go through all this rigamarole?
posted by madajb at 9:00 PM on May 17, 2006


And btw, any one else find that Pot smoke is like 100x not as nasty as cig smoke? I find the smell pleasant and it doesn't stick to everything the way tobacco smoke does.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 PM on May 17, 2006


Would it not be easier to just ban cigarettes, rather than go through all this rigamarole?

Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs available, more addictive then Heroin, by some measures. Trying to ban cigarettes would be a disaster.

Of course, that dosn't mean it won't be tried.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on May 17, 2006


I find cigarette smoking about as sexy as diarrhea.

Ahh, another aficionado of the endless delights of runny girls.
posted by Sparx at 9:06 PM on May 17, 2006


I just saw Goodnight and Good Luck recently, and I gotta agree that smoking looks damn classy in that film. I love the way cigarette smoke looks on black and white film, very beautiful. I love drawing cigarette smoke as well.

That said, it wasn't until I got to college that I realized how irritating smoking can be. Lots of people my age smoke it seems, girls especially. I guess it comes from the whole "away from home" mentality that leads so many of my peers to plan their weekends around getting stoned or wasted. Anyway, when I walk to certain classes I pass along this narrow, but often busy, walkway between two of our buildings. And I always seem to get stuck walking behind some smoker.

I have relatives who smoke, but this year has marked the first time that smoking has actually bothered me. What a difference some consideration makes.

Also UbuRoivas, do you actually have something to back that assertion up, or are you just blowing smoke out of...well, you know the rest.

On preview:

Honestly these anti-smoking people really have the wrong idea. They shouldn't be trying to make smoking dangerous, they should be trying to make it look not cool. And people will always care more about their looks then their health.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 PM PST on May 17


They should start putting photos of my Aunt's teeth on the boxes. That will give anyone pause. She must have been the direct inspiration for Austin Powers, I swear.

So for me, I guess it's fictional smoking = cool; RL smoking = not so much.
posted by kosher_jenny at 9:06 PM on May 17, 2006


Banning tobacco would quickly create the worst collection of social ills and crime ever. The rigmarole is worth it. We should also legalise all other recreational drugs and try the same rigmarole of taxing the profit and cheapness out of it, controlling their depiction in advertising and providing as much as possible in the form of education and treatment.
posted by Jenga at 9:11 PM on May 17, 2006


I'm incredibly happy about Australia's anti-smoking laws - I can go drinking and not have to shower immediately afterwards.

Smokers in my workplace complained bitterly about them, "It will kill the nightlife, everyone who goes to clubs and pubs smokes." Bupkus from my point of view. I don't go out because of the smokey environment.

Australian cigarette packs have notices like "Smoking causes cancer" and "Smoking harms your baby." So I know smokers who will ask for the 'harms your baby' ones because they're male and don't want cancer.

I had a coworker say to me once, "But, it will kill the best pickup line of all time! 'Do you have a light'". That same coworker nearly punched me when I explained that it still worked, viz: "Do you have a light", "No Sorry, I don't smoke." "Oh thank GOD! Everyone else here's a smoker! Hey, want to go somewhere where we can breathe easier?" ;)
posted by Jerub at 9:15 PM on May 17, 2006


Are you suggesting the look of the Ed Murrow character's smoking was primarily affected not by the acting, direction, and cinematography, but by Big Tobacco?

Obviously, the actor, director, cinematographer etc are directly responsible for the image, but (I believe) big tobacco is responsible for all the gratuitous smoking. Watch the movie again & notice how completely smoking permeates the entire movie, for no real reason. For extra marks, see if you can identify the only brand of cigarettes portrayed.

(FWIW, I am not an anti-smoking crusader; just pointing out some product placement. Do I have anything to back it up? Nope, not really. Just observation & comparison with the feel of movies coming from elsewhere. Try paying close attention to smoking next time it comes up in a Hollywood movie, and you might come to the same conclusion)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:28 PM on May 17, 2006


The problem with banning cigarettes outright is that not everyone feels the same way about the issue. While delmoi and Jerub here might sooner chew their own arms off than stand next to a smoker, I don't mind it. I don't see why we can't just say, "some places can allow smoking and some can forbid it and you get to chose which one you go to." That way, everyone wins. I've dated smokers, and I've got friends who smoke. I don't care, the smell doesn't bother me, and I don't have a moral aversion do self-destructive behavior. Is it dangerous? Yes. Can it eventually kill you? Of course. So can drinking, eating too much meat, and voting for George Bush, but we have to let people do it becuase it was decided a long time ago that people get to decide for themselves what bad habits they take up.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:43 PM on May 17, 2006


Watch the movie again & notice how completely smoking permeates the entire movie, for no real reason.

It's a period piece. The fact that everybody is smoking is a striking contrast to the current mood. Unless you're asserting that the movie dramatically exhaggerates and fictionalizes the smoking the went on, I don't see where you're going with this.

I watched Murrow smoking, and thought, goddam, that's some beautiful photography, and that guy knows how to smoke, and that shit'll probably kill him. The director knew this, too, and did it on purpose, and it wasn't to sell cigarettes.

You might as well suggest that Big Oil is responsible for all the classic low-efficiency cars that show up in period films.
posted by cortex at 9:43 PM on May 17, 2006


(I believe) big tobacco is responsible for all the gratuitous smoking.

From Wikipedia:
Murrow was a heavy smoker all his life, and he was rarely seen without a cigarette.
So, in your mind, the fact that Murrow was a heavy smoker should not have been reflected in a film about him because it might encourage people to smoke.

I suppose they could have left out his whole argument with McCarthy, since that might encourage people to dissent.

People disapprove of smoking, but compared to the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical industries, Big Tobacco barely has influence.
posted by aubin at 9:50 PM on May 17, 2006


All I know is all the anti-smoking crap only makes me want to smoke more.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:09 PM on May 17, 2006


Yes, Murrow smoked. Sure, people in those days could smoke in the office. However, neither of these facts stop the movie from being, amongst other things, a 2-hour cigarette advertisement. These are not mutually exclusive propositions.

Anyway, to paraphrase the Buddha, don't believe me; go out and test for yourself. Watch Good Night again, or, if you prefer, switch on a little monitor in your brain next time you see somebody light up in a Hollywood movie, then be mindful every time a cigarette appears in that movie. Ask yourself if the cigs play any role at all, or do they just reinforce messages that smoking is great when stressed / relaxing / waiting for a bus / getting off a bus / walking down the street / sitting in the park / etc? See if you can guess how many times the scenes had to be re-shot, causing the actor to have to light up again. And again. And again. Wonder if it doesn't seem somehow...forced...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:10 PM on May 17, 2006


"The instant I see a cigarette pop into a girl's mouth, my dick goes limp"

Chasuk - is it because of the cigarette or because it's a girl? :-P

I find girls that smoke to be a huge turn off as well. Kissing someone that tastes like an ashtray is nasty. Even if they chew gum, the nasty cigarette taste is still there. And it gets in your hair. On your clothes. Everywhere. Ugh.
And the nasty phlegm that I hack up the next morning. Not a pretty site.

I think the warnings are kind of interesting. Many people have never actually seen an actual lung from a smoker. Compare it to a lung from a non-smoker. The difference is quite shocking.
posted by drstein at 10:15 PM on May 17, 2006


Wow. I might actually buy a pack of cigarettes if I got to take home a picture of damaged brains.

I wouldn't SMOKE them, but I'd buy it and hang the picture on my wall or something.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:24 PM on May 17, 2006


cortex writes "I watched Murrow smoking, and thought, goddam, that's some beautiful photography, and that guy knows how to smoke, and that shit'll probably kill him."

Yeah. He died of lung cancer at age 57.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:26 PM on May 17, 2006


UbuRoivas: The point is, it would be unrealistic to show people not smoking if they were, although few would notice it.

Still, do you have any actual evidence that this particular movie had paid product placement? The film was produced by George Clooney to make a political point, not to make a lot of money.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on May 17, 2006


Ask yourself if the cigs play any role at all, or do they just reinforce messages that smoking is great

or obnoxious, or value neutral, or ironic, or distasteful, or...

Barring cigarettes from film seems to be the only answer, in your view. That's ridiculous. Should a character never blow smoke in another's face, then? Should no one ever ask someone else for a light? Should no one smoke and hack and cough and smoke some more?

Cigarettes are a part of popular culture. They will appear in films and novels and so on wholly independent of the desires of either Big Tobacco or anti-tobacco agencies, because they are useful props.
posted by cortex at 10:28 PM on May 17, 2006


cortex (and aubin): nowhere have I suggested that depictions of smoking should be banned in movies. Nor do I claim that cigarettes never serve a purpose as props or that they *only* ever appear at the behest of big tobacco. I am only pointing out what to me looks at times like obvious product placement, as practiced by many companies in movies.

Product placement is common knowledge, right? Why is it so hard to accept then that tobacco can placed just like cola? In fact, I would suggest that there is greater incentive to place smoking in movies, as TV ads for tobacco are totally banned (in Oz, at least), and print ads cannot show people actually smoking. The movies are the last place where you can depict this kind of thing. (TV shows rarely seem to show smokers...no idea why...?)

delmoi: yes, it would have been historically inaccurate to depict Murrow & crew as non-smokers, but to me the depiction of the smoking went a bit over the line...there was just so much of it! And not just Murrow, BTW. Evidence of placement? Nope. But I reckon you might find it hard to spot a cigarette brand other than Rothmans.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:54 PM on May 17, 2006


There was a lot of smoking because everyone smoked a lot.
posted by 235w103 at 10:58 PM on May 17, 2006


It's not on the packets themselves - they just say "smoking kills" os similar" - but there are a series of campaigns in the UK that have used pretty graphic imagery. (links to PDF)
posted by greycap at 11:12 PM on May 17, 2006


The YMCA I used to work out at had a poster that advised having a cigarette at the end of your workout 'to relax the mind and calm the nerves'. People thought smoking was GOOD for you. The whole "Doctor Recommended" cliche was real. Unbelievable. But it makes me wonder what "doctor recommended" habits we cheerfully indulge in today that'll mortify our descendants.
posted by slatternus at 11:14 PM on May 17, 2006


There was a lot of smoking because everyone smoked a lot.

Sure. They probably also farted a lot, ate a lot, slept a lot, drank a lot, shat a lot, maybe even picked their noses every now and then, but these important historical facts were obviously not deemed crucial enough to include in the movie. I felt somewhat let down by this whitewashing of history, and couldn't concentrate on the Murrow v McCarthy battle as a result.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:17 PM on May 17, 2006


While y'all might find smoking a huge turnoff. Enough people feel exactly the opposite way to justify selling it. (Link NSFW)
Remember, though, there are all sorts of fetishes on the Internet, from the act of letting a shoe drop from a woman's foot... to the bursting of balloons... to baldness, male and female.

Nothing is immune from becoming some poor sod's turn-on. It's just the truth.
posted by Isabeau Sahen at 11:22 PM on May 17, 2006


UbuRoivas, when you watched GLaGN, what brands of cigs did you see in the film? Any shots of a box of a particular brand, with the logo clear? Because I don't recall any myself. I think you are a little confused about what product placement actually is. It's when a company lends their logo and their specific brand to shots in the movie for advertising purposes. Having a character just use an brandless item as a prop to reflect the time period is not product placement. When you see Toby Maguire practice shooting webs using a can of Dr. Pepper in Spider-man it is product placement because the brand and specific product is very visible and it is very clear that Dr. Pepper has paid to have their brand used in that film. However when you see a shot of a character A drinking a glass of beer you don't assume that it's product placement from Big Alcohol.

Using a nondescript prop doesn't equal product placement, because there is no brand being advertised. No more than the shots of the characters in GNaGL siting in chairs constitute product placement for chairs.

On preview: Wait what? "whitewashing"? It was an accurate depiction of the time period. Murrow was a heavy smoker. People smoked a lot back then, and it was considered acceptable to smoke at work. You acknowledge that yourself. How is that whitewashing?
posted by kosher_jenny at 11:25 PM on May 17, 2006


but we have to let people do it becuase it was decided a long time ago that people get to decide for themselves what bad habits they take up.

Yeah but who pays for their medical care? I put this in the same category as refusal to wear a seatbelt. You want to take stupid risks with your health? Fine. You guys go in a separate risk pool, and pay the insurance rates that support the medical care your lifestyle requires.

Don't make the rest of us pay your medical bills. I can live with that.
posted by beth at 11:29 PM on May 17, 2006


Consider that Good Night and Good Luck is a Participant Productions film, a company with the specific charter of making socially conscious movies that encourage social action. They have a film adaptation of Fast Food Nation that's debuting at Cannes.

Then consider this interview with Clooney where he talks about how he was concerned about romanticizing smoking, which is why he included an ad in the background of one scene claiming smoking was good for you to emphasize the naivety of the time. The fact is, it was ubiquitous at the time - Murrow smoked on camera during his reports, and he and many other of the figures in the movie died from their smoking.
posted by abcde at 11:30 PM on May 17, 2006


Beth, that's nonsense. What about people who eat McDonald's, or people who drink, or people who like to have sex a lot, or agressive people who tend to get into fights, or people who go to tanning booths too much and run the risk of skin cancer, or people who just like to sunbathe. I'm redheaded, so my risk of skin cancer is exponentially higher than...say...a black man's. Especially if our pretend black man does not have skin cancer in his family history because I do. Does that mean that we should graduate health insurance premium's based on skin color. I think it'd probably be better if we all just accepted that if we collectively pay for everyone's health insurance everyone is going to get the care they need when they need it, which is more important than anyone's moral crusade about the evils of one vice vs. another.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:37 PM on May 17, 2006


wouldn't featuring a single brand of cigarettes just have been an issue of cost?
posted by jimmy at 11:40 PM on May 17, 2006


What about people who eat McDonald's, or people who drink, or people who like to have sex a lot, or agressive people who tend to get into fights, or people who go to tanning booths too much and run the risk of skin cancer, or people who just like to sunbathe.

Do any of those things kill something like 440,000 people in the U.S. each year, the way smoking does? That's like 8 Vietnams. Every damn year.

It's kind of in a class by itself when it comes to risky behavior, by orders of magnitude. And yeah, I for one would be fine with paying a health insurance premium that accurately reflected the potential cost of my lifestyle choices in healthcare needs. Why should other people have to pay for my destructive habits? That's ludicrous.

Genetic predispositions are something else entirely, though. That's not the same as willfully sucking down carcinogens.
posted by beth at 11:44 PM on May 17, 2006


Actually whiskey, it's a reasonably well established ethical insurance stance that inherited or non-preventable risk factors that are reasonably common and not particularly significant indicators of mortality are subsumed into the general insured population profile. So you can't help being red-headed, adn it doesn't matter very much anyway, so fuhgedaboutit.

Everything else, risk choices that are made, can and should be modified in the amount of insurance that you pay for a level of cover. The only reason they're not is the cost of collecting that information and the difficulty in calculating its effects. There is a practical reason not to do it but not an ethical one, at least not one that I can think of.

I shouldn't pay for your choices, and I should pay for mine.

Of course, health should be totally socialised and insurance shouldn't be required, but that's for a whole different set of ethical reasons.
posted by wilful at 11:48 PM on May 17, 2006


kosher_jenny: Rothmans was the brand, from memory. Call me cynical, but I see nothing implausible about Clooney feeling bad about depicting all that smoking (or at least, claiming to, in an interview), but shrugging it off and thinking "well, since we *have* to show it, we might as well get some cash for it; productions ain't cheap, you know...". In any case, remember that it is a general point about tobacco product placement in movies. I see Good Night as but one example, and not the litmus test for whether or not it happens.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:10 AM on May 18, 2006


The pouch crinkles as I open it- I pull a thin cigarette-paper from the dispenser, and fold it in half, noting the slight gray watermark lines and the sheen of the glue. A sweetish tang redolent of citrus and saffron rises to tickle my nose as I take a pinch of tobacco and push it around in the folded paper. Rolling it firm but not too tight, my tongue glides across the strip delicately, and I seal it with a deft spin of my index finger and thumb. I tap the loose strings of shag into the end, and crimp it by rotating the cylinder against my fingertip. Placing it between my lips, I strike a wooden match, and the head flares with a puff of sulfur smoke. Touching the flame to the tip of this newly-minted cigarette, I draw carefully, and inhale. The smoke slides down and back out, through my open mouth and nose--a soft billowing and fading, easing upwards and away.

Ahhh.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:18 AM on May 18, 2006


Nice try, exlotuseater, but the ahhh needs to be replaced by a retching sound.
posted by wilful at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2006


There was a lot of smoking because everyone smoked a lot.

Not literally, but almost, and particularly among men. American Cancer Society: "In 1950, 82 percent of 35- to 59-year-old men smoked." You could not make an honest film about 1950s American professionals without making them mostly men in that age range, and that means smokers everywhere, smoking wherever they wanted to, because smokers ran the country.

Even right now, 20 percent of American adults smoke, but it's going away. Soon smoking will be as rare as chewing and spitting tobacco, and ash trays will be as rare and absurd as spittoons. In five or ten years you will not even dare to think that someone might allow you to smoke in their home or workplace. And getting a date if you're a smoker? How many dates do you think a guy who chews tobacco gets?
posted by pracowity at 12:36 AM on May 18, 2006


smoking stunts your growth.
posted by FidelDonson at 12:48 AM on May 18, 2006


I used to smoke. I don't any more; I quit twelve years ago. I find smokers incredibly unappealing. I think to myself, here's someone who obviously know they're up for emphysema, strokes, heart attacks etc. but do it anyway. I think rather than being defiant, these folks are scared, because it is a very hard thing to give up. But lots of shit is hard. It was hard when I quit. Do whatever you have to do, go to your doctor for advice or a prescription that'll help, and do it.

The day I realized I had to quit was when my second thought after 'oh shit' when told a friend died was 'Oh good, I can have a smoke then'. I had been trying to cut down, and I jumped at the chance at having a good excuse. That's retarded.

If I see a hot guy, a cigarette makes him an instant joke. I don't want to smell him, let alone kiss him. I also think, rightly or wrongly, "Get a fucking spine already, and deal with your catastrophically declining sex appeal, if you can't do it for your health".
posted by moneyjane at 1:10 AM on May 18, 2006


I'll never again live in a city that allows smoking in bars or restaurants. When I went to visit London last year, and the person at the table next to me was smoking, I was absolutely SHOCKED. It's SUCH an awesome feeling at the end of a night out at the bar, to not have to jump into the shower or put my clothes out on the balcony.

As for the whole Good Night and Good Luck conspiracy, gimme a break. Just about everybody at the time smoked, as has been pointed out. They smoked A LOT. Especially Murrow. Take a read of this story by Joseph Wershba (Robert Downey Jr's character in GNaGL). He says: "Except when the working situation absolutely forbade smoking, I can't ever recall seeing Murrow without a cigarette." It's not like they were just making this shit up - they were being historically accurate. A film about Edward R Murrow, that DIDN'T depict him CONSTANTLY smoking, would have been ridiculous.
posted by antifuse at 2:06 AM on May 18, 2006


Beth, I agree. But - I don't know about where you live, but here in Iceland smoking is very heavily taxed. Most of the money I pay for cigarettes every year goes straight to the government, and hopefully some of it will go to pay for my health care. I don't feel the least bit guilty lighting up in that regard.

The way I look at it, I'm paying an extra tax that non-smokers do not, just as I'm taking that extra risk that non-smokers do not.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 2:25 AM on May 18, 2006


"To my delight, I find that there is a different warning on each pack of cigarettes. Mine says: 'Warning: Smoking can cause fetal damage or premature birth'. Fuck it – I've found my brand! 'Yeah, give me a carton of Low Birth Weights.' Just don't get the ones that say lung cancer, you know? Shop around, it is your body." - Bill Hicks.

But then, he did die of cancer at 33.
posted by Orange Goblin at 3:14 AM on May 18, 2006


I smoke and I love it.
Fuck all y'all.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:05 AM on May 18, 2006


Seeing young girls smoke (and it's almost always the girls these days it seems) depresses the hell out of me.

All of the girl smokers I knew in college smoked because it suppressed their appetite. Better dead than fat!
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:16 AM on May 18, 2006


You know, if there's one thing* I really hate, it's the fucking nanny state. Smoking, video games, seat belts, rap music... enough with this shit already. It's why Hillary better not run for office; she'll never get this vote.

*Hating racists, homophobes, and every member of the Fox News Network goes without saying.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:48 AM on May 18, 2006


As for the whole Good Night and Good Luck conspiracy, gimme a break.

OK, you gotta break. On the condition that next time you see somebody light up in a Hollywood movie, you pay attention to the smoking for the rest of the movie. If it serves any purpose whatsoever, we all win, somehow. If it is gratuitous, the tobacco companies win. Deal?

*rolls delicious Champion Ruby cigarette. fancies self as cool as Ed Murrow (RIP)*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 AM on May 18, 2006


Uburoivas, with that in mind, notice that most of the main cast of Ghosbuster's smoke in that film.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:52 AM on May 18, 2006


Rothmans was the brand, from memory

And they're sales have gone through the roof since the release of that film. The disgusting thing is how that film was clearly marketed toward young kids. Kids love their political period pieces and don't think the Tobacco Lobbyists don't know it brother.
posted by yerfatma at 5:43 AM on May 18, 2006


Captain_Tenille said: All I know is all the anti-smoking crap only makes me want to smoke more.

I had been quit for five years when all the Truth tobacco bashing saturated the TV. My instinctive reaction: start smoking again. Does anyone think I can sue them and get some of that Big Tobacco settlement money? :)
posted by effwerd at 5:46 AM on May 18, 2006


OK, you gotta break. On the condition that next time you see somebody light up in a Hollywood movie, you pay attention to the smoking for the rest of the movie. If it serves any purpose whatsoever, we all win, somehow. If it is gratuitous, the tobacco companies win. Deal?

*rolls delicious Champion Ruby cigarette. fancies self as cool as Ed Murrow (RIP)*


I wish you would get over this, because it is tiresome one-notedness.

Smoking serves the purpose of characterization, of context, of visual storytelling. GNaGL is a completely unindictable film on this front—insofar as there is an argument that smoking is deployed lazily or gratuitously in contemporary film, that film does not support said argument.

To suggest that smoking enjoys any sort of industry-lobbied product placement akin to what we see in softdrinks and computer hardware and such is to completely miss the fact that Hollywood plays it safe. Seems like most of the time, someone featured smoking in a current major Hollywood film is chastised for it. Gone are the days of Dirty Harry and Rick Blaine and, yes, Dr. Raymond Stantz, casually smoking without remark in a big-budget flick.

That smoking has not disappeared from film entirely is not some great coup by the tobacco industry, at least in any active sense—it's a reflection of the world we live in, and the fact that the people who make movies actually pay attention to how people behave.

If you'd care to put your own experiment into action, it might make for an interesting blog—do sit down and carefully note what you see vis-a-vis smoking while watching this or that film, and post that, and we'll go from there. Send me a link; I'd be interested to see the results. And I'll return the favor; I'll try to keep an eye peeled next time some one lights up in a film, too, and drop you any relevant comments.

Until I see some eye-opening confirmation of this epidemic of thoughtless, purposeless smoking in modern film, however, I'm sticking to my guns. I'm utterly unconvinced by your position. For one thing, I'm a bit insulted that you presume that I don't pay attention when I'm watching a movie...
posted by cortex at 6:27 AM on May 18, 2006


Cortex: I actually really like that idea. I think I'm going to start doing that - watching flims for smokers, and determining these factors:

1) Is there a brand visible?
2) Are they making smoking look glamourous/cool?
3) Is the amount of smoking gratuitous?
4) Does the smoking fit the characters?

I'm not really sure what UbuRoivas wants the film industry to do. Ignore the fact that a non-insignificant percentage of people smoke, and make ALL movie characters non-smokers? I would personally find it very odd if NOBODY smoked in the movies.
posted by antifuse at 6:34 AM on May 18, 2006


The single best thing about smoking is that it makes whiny, obnoxious, puritanical non-smokers stay the fuck away from you.
And on that note, I'm off out for a cig...
posted by anagrama at 6:45 AM on May 18, 2006


Watching someone smoke is like watching them pick their nose: an utter turn-off and kind of embarassing at the same time.
posted by bonehead at 6:46 AM on May 18, 2006


Anagrama, too fuckin' right.

And antifuse, you should add 5) Does smoking dictate/influence the fate of the character? (As demonstrated in quite a few films/TV shows.)

And bonehead is being eponysterical.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:51 AM on May 18, 2006


Also:

> There was a lot of smoking because everyone smoked a lot.

Sure. They probably also farted a lot, ate a lot, slept a lot, drank a lot, shat a lot, maybe even picked their noses every now and then, but these important historical facts were obviously not deemed crucial enough to include in the movie.


Are you suggesting that farting, eating, sleeping, drinking, shitting, and nose-picking are never portrayed in film? Or simply that, in the name of equity, any film that portrays smoking must portray all of those in fair proportion?

Because I've seen all of those things on film, used to various purposes. I'd venture you could find any number of films where in there was lots of shitting and farting and little or no smoking. Where drinking was a central plot element. Even sleeping—though the dramatic differences between smoking a cigarette and sleeping should be so blindingly obvious to a careful watcher of film that the comparison is absurd.
posted by cortex at 6:53 AM on May 18, 2006


Maybe add, as well:
6) How do other characters react to incidents of smoking?
posted by cortex at 6:54 AM on May 18, 2006


Why don't Americans have challenging pictures on their cigarette packets? Did a senator die just before he was about to propose the legislation? Is it because of their strong tobacco lobby?
posted by tellurian at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2006


Is it because of their strong tobacco lobby?

That's the likely'n, yeah. And folks in the US get pissy/squeamish as a crowd pretty easily—culturally we're probably a bit less receptive to Scary Imagery on a pack of cigarettes than some nations. (Imagine the lawsuits from parents of traumatized children, &c.)
posted by cortex at 7:15 AM on May 18, 2006


I can't wait until they start putting graphic warnings on alcoholic beverages [gray, necrotized livers], fast-food containers [morbidly obese people, clogged arteries], cars [mangled people], and everything else that is potentially dangerous.

Please, please tell me again that I'm potentially harming myself. Because I'm too ignorant to know better.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2006


I felt somewhat let down by this whitewashing of history, and couldn't concentrate on the Murrow v McCarthy battle as a result.

I would suggest that you missed the point of the movie because you are too easily distracted by your quest to find an agenda where it doesn't exist.
posted by psmealey at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2006


Smoking makes you look like a dragon !
posted by bumpkin at 8:37 AM on May 18, 2006


!
posted by cortex at 8:42 AM on May 18, 2006


Please, please tell me again that I'm potentially definitely harming myself. Because I'm too ignorant to know better.

Fixed.
posted by antifuse at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2006


I was going to post a comment, but it's time for my cigarette break.
posted by tadellin at 9:08 AM on May 18, 2006


To suggest that smoking enjoys any sort of industry-lobbied product placement akin to what we see in softdrinks and computer hardware and such is to completely miss the fact that Hollywood plays it safe. Seems like most of the time, someone featured smoking in a current major Hollywood film is chastised for it.

cortex is correct, and you can tell the difference between the attitude to smoking between say French films and Hollywood films - from recent years, that is, there is a lot less smoking than there used to be, especially in films aimed at wider audiences. Tv series are even more explicit. I can't recall movies/tv series with smoking where there wasn't a scene when someone smokes and they don't get a telling off from someone else. Or they end up dead two scenes after (not from smoking, but the association is built all the same) . Or they say, I'm trying to quit, it's my last one. Or they're doing it out of stress and they're nervous and it looks like a weakness. In French films this doesn't happen, people smoke just because, there is rarely any characterisation of the act as negative.

So seems to me there is a definite Hollywood trend to incorporate anti-smoking messages in films. (actually I thought there was a law about it? or a regulation or proposal or something? I just vaguely remember reading something about it). I guess it's the combination of health concerns and fear of lawsuits.

I haven't seen Clooney's film but yeah it doesn't sound so out of order that smoking features so heavily given the context of the story.
posted by funambulist at 9:17 AM on May 18, 2006


Guess it's only a matter of time before America follows India's example and bans smoking in films. I remember reading a William Gibson book where they had digitaly removed cigarettes from old films like Casablance. Digitaly add a tasty carrot to Bogart to digitally chew on.

One series that has smoking only because it's cool is Cowboy Bebop. So much so that there's a Smoking Game made around it.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:38 AM on May 18, 2006


Digitally. Christ. I need a cigarette.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:39 AM on May 18, 2006


One series that has smoking only because it's cool is Cowboy Bebop.

A series which is heavily influenced by both noir and western film history, natch.
posted by cortex at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2006


My favorite anti-smoking poster from my childhood: Smoking Is Very Glamorous.

Anybody seen the trailer for Thank You for Smoking? Aaron Eckhart (playing a tobacco lobbyist) and Rob Lowe (a Hollywood super-agent) are discussing how to put cigarettes into an upcoming science fiction movie.

"Cigarettes ... in space."

"But in a pure oxygen environment, wouldn't it explode?"

"Good point. But there's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the ... whatever.'"
posted by russilwvong at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2006


There is one warning in the UK that states something like "Smoking while pregnant may seriously damage your unborn child." My puffing chum Ferg insists only only buying/carrying packets with this warning as, being a man, the cancer sticks will not affect him in this manner...
posted by brautigan at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2006


You know, smoking is not healthy but I see far more very old smokers than very old obese people. I was musing on this the other day, when I say a 40 year old woman in a wheelchair who could barely fit in it. Then I realized at nursing homes and the like I never saw anyone that obese. I do see old people smoking. That's not to say a large percentage of the population has a genetic propensity to cancer when they smoke tobacco, but I would say that there are probably bigger killers out there that are just as bad (stress from work on hearts, obesity, unhealty eating, etc.). Let's inform people and let free will take its course, instead of manipulating people constantly to not smoke.
posted by geoff. at 10:18 AM on May 18, 2006


...just like Jerub noted.
posted by brautigan at 10:20 AM on May 18, 2006


the teeth pictures are the by far the worst. - rsanheim

It seems (based on my experience working at a retail establishment that carries cigarettes back when those pics were 1st introduced in Canada) that's the consensus between smokers. For a long time, people would ask for "anything but the teeth". Some people would ask for "no teeth, no brains, no lungs" but the "no teeth" request was the most frequent. Which suggests to me that the images were doing at least part of what they hoped to. A couple of years later, though, and smokers don't bother to make that request anymore. I think they're used to it.

It really says something about a person's intelligence and character when they maintain a blatantly filthy and suicidal habit like that. - Pseudonumb

Or, ya know, maybe they're addicted.
posted by raedyn at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2006


Man, if I didn't already smoke (about a cigarette every two days, when I need to take the edge off), I'd start just so I'd never have to talk to you anti-smoking people.
posted by 235w103 at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2006


You know, smoking is not healthy but I see far more very old smokers than very old obese people.

Yeah, I've noticed that. We should require big pictures of naked obese people and stomach staplings and quadruple bypasses on snack foods. Based just on personal observation, I'd say it's better to be a thin smoker than a fat nonsmoker if you want to live into old age.

And if you want to gripe about how nasty the smell of smoke is, or how smoking discolors teeth, don't forget that fat people are... fat. If it's OK to say how gross a smoker's teeth are, then it's OK to say how gross a fat ass and stomach and waddle are. If you want to get a date, better to be a smoker than a porker.

Not that smokers should get off the hook -- after all, there's always secondhand smoke to complain about -- but maybe fat folk (half of the people here?) should temper their remarks about smokers. If you can't lose that unhealthy, disgusting, humiliating fat and the nasty habits behind it (almost always a combination of gluttony and sloth), maybe you shouldn't complain so much about people who can't stop smoking.
posted by pracowity at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2006


Catching up on this thread, I want a cigarette too.
posted by blacklite at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2006


You know, my attitude has always been that smokers don't have a right to inflict their hobby on me in public, but, frankly, smokers tend to be so violently truculent about any implication that their addiction isn't a Constitutional right that it ain't worth it.

On the other hand, I'll just say this: if you smoke, you are putting yourself at enormously increased risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD for short.

80 to 90 percent of COPD cases are caused, directly, by smoking. I've seen a lot of people in this thread talking about the end effects of impotence and so forth, and I've seen a lot of flippant responses from smokers accusing those people of exaggeration.

Well, if impotence isn't enough to get you to stop smoking, perhaps the nearly inevitable end outcome of drowning in your own lungs' secretions will do it. I see it constantly. It is a horrific way to go, and every single cigarette you smoke puts you one step closer to it.

If you smoke, and want to get a good feel for what the end of your life will most probably be like, go outside and run a hard sprint, until your lungs are screaming for air, and you're gasping so hard to catch your breath that it burns in your throat.

Now imagine feeling like that every single moment of your life, until you die. And when you die, you'll do so clawing for air, spitting up blood and pieces of your lungs, desperate for just one...more...breath. Now ask yourself whether this cigarette is worth that.
posted by scrump at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


p.s. You might have not caught the fact that this is ironic in tone. It's okay. It's the internet. It's sort of a static medium.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2006


And, for the record, I'm kind of agnostic on this whole COPD thing. You have every right to do whatever you want to yourself, and I get paid to show up when you or your family calls 911 and do what I can for you. I don't agree with your choices, but, hell, they're your choices.

Any paramedic worth their name will fight like hell to keep you alive, but we have to have something to work with. COPD is frustrating as hell, because it's your basic downward spiral, and the best anyone can do is slow it, not halt or reverse it.

Plus, it just really kind of sucks to see someone who could have had 20 more good years struggling to make it through the next hour.
posted by scrump at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2006


I had a grandpa die from smoking. COPD or emphasyma I couldn't say which. But it was awful. Gross and awful. Watching him take a puff of oxygen, then a puff of his cigarette, and coughing and coughing and coughing and struggling and miserable. I was maybe 10 at the time. It had a real impact on me, and I've never entertained the idea of even having a drag off of a cigarette. No one ever said "look, you shouldn't smoke or you'll turn out like grandpa" but kids are smart, and I figured it out. Maybe every kid should be exposed to that in their impressionable years.
posted by raedyn at 1:09 PM on May 18, 2006


their addiction isn't a Constitutional right

Er, that would be a stupid argument. I don't think smokers argue that their addiction is a constitutional right. I believe they argue that they should be free to pursue their pleasures as they see fit. And from what I understand, a few smokers actually want to quit, so I can't imagine them arguing for their addiction in any context, least of all a constitutional one.
posted by effwerd at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2006


Smoking is the new sex. It has to be, because my dick doesn't work anymore.
posted by Sparx at 2:19 PM on May 18, 2006


People who notice how stylish and cool smoking looks in movies should pay attention to the people who wear black trenchcoats because they think it makes them look powerful and cool like it does for people in the movies.

Real life doesn't glamourize they way you can during production of movies. The guy wearing the black trenchcoat doesn't look like The Matrix, he looks like an inept wannabee - actually less powerful than if he wasn't wearing it. The cigarette doesn't make someone look like Good Night and Good Luck, it makes them look like they come from a poor/trashy background.

Likewise in the movies, casinos are universally glamorous places where everyone is wealthy, dressed to the nines, and suave. I wonder if this appeals most to people who want to be that, ie, people who are not that? If you go to a casino, they're nothing like that. There is however high-roller mythology to keep the idea alive.

Smoking is the same - silver screen glamour appeals to the unglamorous who want that. Go to a function in the real world which is the type of event where a movie would show "glamorous" smoking, and I find that few people smoke, but go to a dive of a bar, everyone smokes with that "glamorous" experienced way. Spend time in both kinds of places, and cigarettes start to look like a pretty reliable indicator, but in the opposite way that it sounds like some here imagine.

How noticable the difference is varies from area to area. It's not as in your face where I currently am, but some places I've been, it's a shockingly clear flag. (Well, shocking to me, since I'm a hopeless idealist that doesn't like the idea that social classes still exist in this day and age, but I also know some people that would bite my head off at the suggestion that they didn't have to struggle to overcome class barriers to achieve this or that)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:55 PM on May 18, 2006


People who notice how stylish and cool smoking looks in movies should pay attention to the people who wear black trenchcoats because they think it makes them look powerful and cool like it does for people in the movies.

Real life doesn't glamourize they way you can during production of movies.


Absolutely. Was someone arguing otherwise?

I mean, I'll put up the argument that I have seen real people smoke well, and that some people know how to handle a cigarette, but, yes—the aesthetics of smoking in film are just as distanced from candid every day smoking as anything else on the screen.

That in no way discourages me from holding the opinion that smoking can look good on camera, however. And being in the WPI '01 class, I've likely seen as many dorks in black trenchcoats as anyone else here.
posted by cortex at 3:02 PM on May 18, 2006


Google search of interest. Sources include UCSF, Sydney University, NSW Cancer Council, The Age, the BBC, the British Medical Journal etc. (I shut up now)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2006


Anyone who reads this thread probably needs to see Thank You for Smoking. It's a very hilarious movie.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:20 PM on May 18, 2006


I have seen real people smoke well, and that some people know how to handle a cigarette - cortex

Me too. I thing smoking is gross, the smell bothers me etc etc. But:

There is one guy I know that has a certain way he lights his cigarette -- cigarette between his lips, head tilted slightly, looking down, cupping the flame between both hands, so deliberately, so delicately... I can't describe it adequately, but it melted me, gave me shivers. Fuck, I wanted to be the cigarette. My thing for him was a long time ago, but it's still a vivid memory. I've never seen anything like it before or since.
posted by raedyn at 4:25 PM on May 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


A bunch of folks have made comments like, "Catching up on this thread, I want a cigarette too." and "Man, if I didn't already smoke (about a cigarette every two days, when I need to take the edge off), I'd start just so I'd never have to talk to you anti-smoking people."

Really, I don't care if you smoke!

I don't even care if you burst into flames and die!

:)
posted by Jerub at 9:29 PM on May 18, 2006


The cigarette ... makes them look like they come from a poor/trashy background.

I'm a hopeless idealist that doesn't like the idea that social classes still exist in this day and age.

You might not like the idea, but you're obviously helping it along by promoting the idea that smoking = "trashy background". Well done.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:29 AM on May 19, 2006


raedyn, your comment about the smoker you used to know was great! My now-husband was a smoker when I met him, and I used to love to watch him smoke. I can't put my finger on it, perhaps it was the way the held the cigarette, how sexy it made his hands look. Sigh...
posted by meringue at 9:54 AM on May 19, 2006


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