Smoking Stars

Times certainly have changed for smokers over the past few decades.

About 15 years ago, smoking indoors was still permissible in many public places. It was not unusual to see ashtrays inside courthouses, in restaurants and bars, and in other places where people gathered.

In the ’70s it wasn’t uncommon to see celebrities smoking on television game shows, and prior to that, there were even television commercials for various brands of cigarettes.

But over the years, the dangers of smoking have changed the landscape of what is socially acceptable in public. The trend has put a dark cloud over smokers, many of whom are seeing the light and kicking the habit.

The growing stigma surrounding tobacco use is likely helping to curb potential use by young people. With fewer youths being exposed to it, we should expect to see a generally healthier society in the future.

However, young people are still being exposed to smoking through a star-studded means – the motion picture industry. Although there are fewer movies today that show actors and actresses smoking, period films often stay true to the times in which they are set, and they often involve a lot of imagery featuring stars lighting up and puffing away.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined other attorneys general from 37 states to call for an end to smoking being depicted in youth-rated films, including all movies rated G, PG and PG-13.

Hollywood should take more of a conscious effort to avoid glamorizing such a dangerous habit.

The attorneys general suggested that motion picture companies adopt corporate policies that: eliminate tobacco use in youth-rated movies, place effective anti-tobacco spots on all future DVDs and Blu-ray videos of films that do depict smoking, include closing credits for all future motion picture releases with tobacco imagery certifying that no payoffs were made in connection with any tobacco depictions, and assure that all future movies are kept free of tobacco brand display.