Monday 8 February 2010

Stanton Glantz: A one man junk science machine

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.)


westcoast2 said...

There is a huge scientific literature in this area of research that's been done all over the world

I supposed he can afford to travel around with all the grant money he gets :)

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to conduct a review of this list of publications if only to determine how many of them are simply reorganised copies of previous publications. As you know republishing the same work repeatedly is actually not allowed and if drawn to the attention of a serious journal the offending article will be withdrawn.

smockr said...

ooo glantz is my man! I have +600 for him right here.

-it's still a work in progress though. Maybe I'll dedicate the site to him when I'm done.

Anonymous said...

According to the UCSF website biography on Glantz (which that is a very, very, very outdated photograph of him BTW - his latest interview on local SF TV, KGO-TV7, from a few months back shows him worn, tired and decrepit in the face) - Glantz was the winner of a Best Actor's award once himself.

He and his disciples at UCSF (University of California School of Fascism) have also won prestigious awards such as Best Use of Tobacco Documents (in manufacturing "proof" on need of outdoor smoking bans, military base smoking bans, etc.).

On the US website devoted to disclosure of financial information of public nonprofits and fake-charities, the name of "Glantz" pops up under Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from UCSF and where most doctors and people of wealth live, as trustee for some multi-million dollar "nonprofit" of some sort apparently devoted only to the wealth of his own namesake of "Glantz" - perhaps where some of those tens of billions donated to UCSF yearly by pharmaceuticals and last year one "anonymous donor" for the purposes of waging war on smokers ended up - to his benefit.

Of course, I'm just speculating, just saying .....

Anonymous said...

The pearly gates will slam in his face.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"scenes of eating don't make people fat and scenes of violence don't make people violent."

Woah! A million righteous beg to differ!

Anonymous said...

Glantz repeatedly says that he only wants to ban smoking in films rated for children.

Does anyone believe for a moment that if Glantz is successful in accomplishing that, that he and others won't then attempt to ban smoking in R rated films?

After all, we all know that children do watch R rated films. I feel sure that's exactly what Glantz will start pointing out once he gets his way with films rated for children.


Angry Exile said...

Avatra was the first time I'd seen a movie classified for 'scenes of smoking' - now we know the prick responsible.