To give Glantz his due, he did not fall into the trap of mistaking correlation with causation in the study itself.
Fear not, dear reader. Even Stan is not prepared to mistake correlation and causation so grievously (although it surely won't be long before advocates use this study to tell Hollywood: "Get rid of smoking in your films and you'll boost sales by 13%"). He does not claim that smoking in films is the cause of lower revenues. He does not explore what the actual reasons may be, but it seems likely that smoking is more common in indie films, gritty dramas, European releases and other movies which tend to make less money than big budget cartoons and family blockbusters.
I did, however, ask how long it would be before some dumb-bell took the study as 'proof' that putting smoking in a film directly leads to fewer people going to see it and, therefore, making less money.
It didn't take long, and Scientific American is skating on thin ice with this headline:
Smoking Is a Drag at the Box Office
And they plunge straight through the ice with statements like this:
Movie-makers are burning potential earnings when they have onscreen characters light up, new research suggests.
Oh dear, oh dear. All we need now is some dumb-bell to step forward and spell out this fallacious thinking explicitly. Step forward, Stanton Glantz...
"Putting smoking in the film isn't leading to more popular films that make more money," Glantz says. "It's leading to less popular films that make less money."