Readers may have heard about the anti-smoking backlash against the movie Avatar last month. It was led, as usual, by the notorious tobacco control-freak Stanton Glantz, who took umbrage at one of the characters - heaven forfend! - smoking cigarettes.
In the debate below, Glantz manages to be rude and obnoxious to both the presenter and the other guest, as well as making the laughable claim that "hundreds of thousands" of children start smoking each year because of brief scenes of smoking in a handful of movies (most films that depict smoking have adult ratings for other reasons, so it really is a handful).
As Glantz argues with characteristic grace and courtesy in part two, this only applies to smoking. Magically, scenes of eating don't make people fat and scenes of violence don't make people violent.
The first words out of his mouth are: "There is overwhelming scientific evidence..." a phrase which, at some point in the last few years, has come to mean the exact opposite of what it should. He goes on to say:
"There is a huge scientific literature in this area of research that's been done all over the world that clearly shows that the more kids see smoking on screen, the more likely there are to smoke."
Overwhelming evidence there is not. A vast literature there certainly is. Never mind the quality, feel the quantity. See if you can see a pattern...
Mekemson C, Glantz SA. How the tobacco industry built its relationship with Hollywood. Tob Control.2002;11 (suppl 1):i81–i91
Glantz SA, Kacirk K, McCulloch C. Back to the future: smoking in movies in 2002 compared with 1950 levels. Am J Public Health. 2004;94 :261 –26
Polansky JR, Glantz SA. First-run smoking presentations in US movies 1999–2003. 2004.
Hazan AR, Lipton HL, Glantz SA. Popular films do not reflect current tobacco use. Am J Public Health. 1994;84 :998 –999
Stockwell TF, Glantz SA. Tobacco use is increasing in popular films. Tob Control. 1997;6 :282 –284
Kacirk K, Glantz SA. Smoking in movies in 2000 exceeded rates in the 1960s. Tob Control.2001;10 :397 –398
Glantz SA. Smoking in the movies: a major problem and a real solution. Lancet. 2003;362 :258 –259
Glantz SA. Rate movies with smoking "R." Eff Clin Pract. 2002;5 :31 –34
Charlesworth A, Glantz SA, Smoking in the Movies Increases Adolescent Smoking: A Review, Pediatrics, Vol. 116 No. 6 December 2005, pp. 1516-1528
Polansky J, Glantz S (2009) Taxpayer subsidies for US films with tobacco imagery. UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education.
Polansky J, Titus K, Glantz S (2009) Two years later: Are MPAA's tobacco labels protecting movie audiences?
Titus K, Polansky J, Glantz S (2009) Smoking Presentation Trends in U.S. Movies 1991-2008
Lum KL, Polansky JR, Jackler RK, Glantz SA (2008) Signed, sealed and delivered: Big Tobacco in Hollywood, 1927-1951
Polansky J, Titus K, Glantz S (2007) Six months later: Are MPAA's tobacco ratings protecting movie audiences? University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
Song AV, Ling PM, Neilands TB, Glantz SA (2007) Smoking in movies and increased smoking among young adults. Am. J. Prev. Med. 33(5):396-403.
Polansky J, Glantz S (2007) First-Run Smoking Presentations in U.S. Movies 1999-2006. University of California Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
Alamar B, Glantz S (2006) Tobacco industry profits from smoking in the movies. Pediatrics 117:1642.
Charlesworth A, Glantz S (2006) Tobacco and the movie industry. Clin Occup Environ Med. 5:73-84.
Polansky JR, Glantz S (2005) Clearing tobacco from films would avert deaths worldwide at virtually no cost. Global Health & Environment Monitor 13(2):3-5.
What a busy fellow he is.
(PS. Since Glantz started bitching about it, Avatar has become the highest grossing movie in history. The curse strikes again.)