Welcome to the world of SmokeFree Movies, Glantz's quixotic campaign to banish tobacco from our screens (for the children, natch). Despite years of being ridiculed and ignored on this issue, Stan is continuing his crusade and has written yet another paper on the subject (he has written a lot).
Today, he claims that 100,000 Californian 12-17 year olds are smokers as a direct result of seeing smoking in the movies. This is a figure that he alone invented and which even hardcore anti-smoking head-bangers like Simon Chapman find laughable.
He also claims that these 100,000 people will cost the taxpayer $1.6 billion. This figure is based on a total misrepresentation of the academic literature and a fundamental misunderstanding of externalities and social costs. As I hope you know by now, it is doubtful that smokers incur any net costs on other taxpayers, but even if they do, they are vastly outweighed by revenue from tobacco taxes (see here for a refresher).
This is all bog-standard junk from the godfather of junk science. The real bees in Stanton's bonnet are the taxpayer subsidies of Hollywood films which show a practice of which he disapproves. They must stop, he says. There will be no more smoking in the movies on his watch and he has a plan to do something about it:
The policy solution is to amend the California tax credit program statute, adding the following to the existing list of productions disqualified from eligibility for subsidy: “…any production that depicts or refers to any tobacco product or non-pharmaceutical nicotine delivery device or its use, associated paraphernalia or related trademarks or promotional material.”
You will note that this only applies to smoking. Movies showing homicide, rape, drug abuse, drinking, speeding, violence and wife-beating will continue to receive their subsidies.
Or at least they will for now. If the government takes heed of the mechanic, we can be sure that drinking will be in the firing line, with minor vices such as mass murder and incest following in due course. This is sheer, unbridled, censorious puritanism. Note that smoking and tobacco paraphernalia cannot even be referred to under Stan's regime! Film scripts will not be allowed to include words like 'cigarette' or 'pipe'.
Even the word 'e-cigarette' will be verboten because the proposed ban includes all "non-pharmaceutical nicotine delivery device". Why not include all nicotine products? Cynics would say it's because SmokeFree Movies was founded with money from Johnson & Johnson, the makers of various 'nicotine replacement therapies', and continues to receive grants from the company's philanthropic wing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The good news is that this proposal is too nuts even for California. Glantz can stamp his feet all he likes, but the movie industry rightly perceives him as a crank and we can assume he will continue to be shown the door. We must certainly hope so, for if monomaniacs like him ever gain a stranglehold on the creative arts, it will be another nail in the coffin of the free society.