They also believe that no fewer than 390,000 American "kids" start smoking every year because of the smoking they see on screen, and they've got the studies to prove it. Admittedly, these studies are nearly all written by the guy who runs SmokeFree Movies, Stanton Glantz, who also founded Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, but I'm sure he would never let his personal obsession lead his conclusions.
While the SmokeFree Movies claims are not inherently more ludicrous than anything else that comes out of Glantz's mouth, they are perhaps more obviously ludicrous to the casual observer. His latest pearl of wisdom is that: "A lot of kids are going to start smoking because of this movie". The movie in question is Johnny Depp's Rango. I haven't seen this film and probably never will, but according to a shocked spokeswoman for Breathe California, smoking is depicted many times:
Because there are so many scenes in which characters smoke, she said, her group might not be able to get a definitive count until Rango comes out on DVD.
It would, of course, be premature to say exactly how many "kids are going to start smoking because of this movie" until this crucial piece of scientific research has been carried out. Let's pray that the carnage is not as bad as first feared.
Jacob Sullum has written about this at Reason and the National Review has reported it with the suitably sarcastic headline 'Tobacco study suggests smoking on film may kill the audience':
The anti-smoking movement has undoubtedly been of great benefit to the health of Quebecers. The province, long derided as Canada’s ashtray, saw its smoking rate drop to 22.5% in 2009 from more than 30% in 1998. But when it has come to sitting in front of movies with a stopwatch, noting whether a smoking character conveys sexiness, rebellion or some other veiled message, you are well on your way to earning your reputation as a killjoy.
But best of all is Filmdrunk, who must have missed Glantz's chest-pounding about Avatar last year, because the great man has only just come onto his radar.
Let me be very clear about something: Stanton Glantz is not a real person. He can’t be. An anti-smoking advocate named Stanton Glantz who lives in San Francisco and makes conclusory doomsday statements like “A lot of kids are going to start smoking because of this movie” sounds like something even Michael Bay would dismiss as being too on-the -nose. No, I’ll not be fooled by this.
Additionally, and I don’t even know if this is possible, but I’m picturing him with two sole patches.
On Feb. 23, Smoke Free Movies, a project of Glantz’s, ran a full-page ad in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter that slammed the smoking in Rango. “How many studio execs did it take to OK smoking in a ‘PG’ movie?” the ad asked.
Said Glantz, “If we had known it’s as bad as it is, this ad would have been even tougher.”
I love that he thought the original ad was tough in the least. I just picture him sitting around saying, “Yes, this smugly worded question will surely cut through these executives like a samurai sword."
Nevertheless, Rango has renewed the call by Glantz and other anti-smoking advocates for the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA, to rate any film that shows smoking as “R.”
(*spins directly off planet*)
Look, I don’t want kids smoking any more than the next guy (provided the next guy isn’t Joe Camel). But these morons who take it upon themselves to try to eradicate tobacco use from the planet one city ordinance and petition at a time need to be stopped. I’m sorry if your enjoyment of the park is lessened because Johnny Motorcycle lit up a Marlboro Light and the smell of smoke just drives you batty. But tough sh*t. I don’t like country music, but I’m not going to go out and picket every Keith Urban concert. As I said up top, I can understand banning smoking in tight, confined spaces like bars or airplanes for the health of consumers and employees. But when your argument devolves into “ALL MOVIES WITH SMOKING SHOULD BE RATED-R REGARDLESS OF CONTEXT,” then you’re no longer doing a service to your cause.
And you’re an asshole.
And I hate you.
The comments don't suggest that Glantz is getting a lot of support from the movie-going public either.