Monday 29 August 2011

At the movies with the prohibitionists

It's been quite a month for wowser propaganda, what with Facebook folly, obesity babble and multiple drinking delusions. With so much junk coming from their temperance and fat-fighting rivals, the anti-smoking wingnuts must be feeling quite left out. But, like a champion limbo dancer, when the bar is lowered, you can rely on Tobacco Control to lower it once more...

Films that 'encourage smoking' claim £338m in UK tax credits

Imperial College team says government is 'seriously undermining' anti-tobacco campaign

This 'news story'—reported in the Observeris a variation of a press release that was knocking around last week which gave us the SHOCKING news that some Hollywood films subsidised by the US government depict smoking—a deviant activity which only 1.4 billion people engage in. The message is that this is UNACCEPTABLE and that governments should not provide assistance to film-makers who wish to depict this foul and despicable practice (other foul and despicable practices are okay). Won't somebody please think of the children? etc.

Personally, I find it shocking that Hollywood films receive subsidies. I had assumed it was only the piss-poor, loss-making British efforts that demanded aid from the reluctant tax-payer.

The UK version of this non-story is even lamer than the original. Foreign film-makers working in Britain receive tax relief for whatever reason and some of the movies they make contain images of the most evil habit in the Universe and, therefore, makes kiddies start smoking.

The evidence that teenagers start smoking because they see people (usually villains and perverts) smoking on screen has been entirely created by Californian fruitcake Stanton Glantz, who hilariously insists that half of all smokers take up the habit because they see Gandalf smoking in The Lord of the Rings or something. Even Glantz's opposite number in Australia, the creepy sociologist Simon Chapman, has described this evidence as "epidemiological alchemy" and, as former editor of Tobacco Control, he knows all about that.

Needless to say, the Observer story stems from yet another smokefree movies study from Glantz:

"California's state film subsidy program is undermining its longstanding tobacco control efforts," said lead author Stanton Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Smoke Free Movies Project based at UCSF. "These activities never made sense, but are even more remarkable at a time when health and education programs are being slashed."

"In addition to ending subsidies for films that promote smoking, modernizing the rating system to give smoking films an R rating will provide a market incentive for producers to keep smoking out of movies that they market to adolescents."

Glantz has moved on from his original goal of banning smoking in all but R-rated films, and now wants the government to withdraw financial support from films that depict smoking. Since film-makers want the lowest classification possible and also want subsidies, this is one way of stopping the movie industry from showing the world as it is, and instead make it look like the fantasy that people like Glantz have in their heads. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just about changing the classification system. The aim is to get rid of smoking from all movies. It is censorship, pure and simple.

Glantz's co-author for the latest of his rants on this subject is Christopher Millett—a sociologist who works in obesity prevention. He crunched the numbers with the great mechanical engineer and concluded...

"In the period we looked at, the government gave £48m a year in tax credits to American films that feature smoking, almost all of which were rated suitable for children and adolescents," said Christopher Millett, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. "By comparison, the government spent £23m a year on mass media anti-smoking campaigns."

Note the spurious comparison here, as if the government is spending twice as much promoting smoking as it is trying to prevent it—as if the brief appearance of some villain smoking a cigarette is an equal and opposite reaction to an anti-smoking commercial.

The good news is that Glantz's 'smokefree movies' ruse has so far fallen on stony ground. The WHO and the CDC have been happy to support his demands for censorship, but the film industry generally doesn't like being told what to do by single-issue fanatics and has ignored them (it would open the floodgates to obsessives of all kinds if it didn't). The government has also shown no interest in supporting the zealots and when Glantz got his knickers in a twist over Avatar last year, he made himself a laughing stock.

Excellent. Anything that reminds the public that they are dealing with censorship-loving screwballs who want to turn art into propaganda is to be encouraged so, please continue 'Dr' Glantz. It's delightful.


Anonymous said...

Well here's some good propaganda on this website

(I believe it's rival to Stanton Glantz's website,not quite sure though)

On the left bottom they claim:

'Smoking kills about 340 YOUNG people a day'!!!!!!

Honestly can someone sue these bastards!!!

Curmudgeon said...

Interesting that in last night's critically-acclaimed spy thriller "Page Eight", the lead character played by Bill Nighy was shown smoking. It seems that, very often, smoking is used as a means of demonstrating that a character is independent-minded and a bit edgy. As if interesting people smoke, and dull ones don't.

(The film, btw, was at heart a load of wordy, portentous lefty drivel)

Twenty_Rothmans said...

It's about time that they cracked down on movies displaying activities potentially damaging to one's health.

I hope that this:

underlines my point.

I hope that Glantz, who works in San Francisco, has simply overlooked this subject and will take it aboard his moral juggernaut at his earliest opportunity.

But he won't. That would require courage.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I have noticed certainly in a few BBC productions a certain amount of glee amongst actors when able to light up for 'verite'. In a recent reworking of Miss Marple, a tense scene set in a pub, lost it's edge as the actors were obviously enjoying the illicit fact they were smoking in a pub again.

Ann W. said...

We are experiencing the same tactics in Canada.

"In Canada, about 300,000 high‐school aged children smoke either on a daily or occasional basis. Of these, from one‐third to one‐half became smokers because of their exposure to tobacco on screen. If young people were not exposed to smoking in movies, there would be about 130,000 fewer Canadian teenagers smoking.

From 2004 to 2009, an estimated $600 million in provincial and federal film production incentives have gone to fund US studio films shot in Canada, mostly in British Columbia, Ontario and Québec. An estimated $240 million of these public incentives funded US studio films with smoking that were classified as appropriate for children and adolescents — G, PG or 14A — by Canadian provincial film rating authorities.

Tobacco use will eventually kill 32% of 15 year old smokers, half before age 70 and half after, a result confirmed by Health Canada. We thus estimate that exposure to on-screen smoking will cause 43,000 premature deaths among current Canadian smokers ages 15-19.*

*This mortality projection assumes that smoking cessation rates among Canadian adolescents and outcomes for tobacco-induced diseases among smokers are substantially unchanged since the 1990s and will remain so."

Ann W. said...

The Ontario Coalition for Smoke- Free Movies was formed in May of 2010 to take collective action to counter the harmful impact of smoking in movies.

Members of the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-free Movies include the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Non-Smokers’ Rights Association/ Smoking and Health Action Foundation, Ontario Lung Association, Ottawa Public Health, Physicians for a Smoke -Free Canada, Ontario Tobacco Control Area Networks.

Glands-free said...

Stantonitis Glands: "These activities never made sense, but are even more remarkable at a time when health and education programs are being slashed."

This could beautifully, perfectly be said of TC (and like programs), and particularly the perverse efforts of Stantonitis himself.

He crunched the numbers with the great mechanical engineer and concluded...

Chris, show some respect….. great mechanical engineer/cardiologist/economist/social engineer/film censor/pathological liar.

There. That’s better.

The WHO and the CDC have been happy to support his demands for censorship

I have a feeling that censorship is really a WHO “initiative”. I think most initiatives are centrally directed from the WHO. Stantonitis is a WHO lackey, well and long connected in the GlobaLink network. If the WHO has an “initiative” (e.g., bans don’t hurt business, heart miracles, movie censorship), Stantonitis is the chief go-to dimwit to provide scientific “evidence”. You can hear Glands responding to a phone call from the WHO – “Sure, Louie…… I’ll whip up a research paper while I’m on the toilet tonight”.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is just about changing the classification system. The aim is to get rid of smoking from all movies. It is censorship, pure and simple.

Unfortunately, there is method in the madness. The goal (Godber/WHO Blueprint) is to contrive smoking into an “R”-rated, adult-only act (on a par with sexual acts). As such, it should only be permitted in private, engaged in solely or between consenting adults. Therefore, smoking should be banned in all public places, particularly to “protect” The Children™ from being “led astray”.

It’s tough work attempting to directly contrive smoking into such “moral” terms, particularly by a morally-destitute eugenics, physicalist framework. However, film already has a classification system that can be used for such contrivance; it’s working back-to-front. There may be a better chance of getting an “R” classification in movies because those that are not antismokers may think it is only confined to movies. But this is not what the ban droolers have in mind. If they can get an “R” classification for smoking in films, then the “next logical step” is that the “R”-rated, adults-only act of smoking – acknowledged so in films - must also be banned entirely from the public….. to protect the moral sensibilities of “pure” nonsmokers and particularly for The Children™. If the R-rating applies in films, it applies in real life. Or so say the fanatics.

Therefore, it’s not just a “propaganda in film” issue, troubling as that is in itself. The whole idea of classifying/rating the act of smoking should actively be rejected/battled.

Glands-free said...

Right on cue. A Glands-inspired, on-the-toilet study from Europe avec required conclusion..

The link between smoking in movies and adolescent smoking is robust and transcends different cultural contexts. Limiting young people's exposure to movie smoking could have important public health implications.

The ultimate translation is:
Limiting young people's exposure to people smoking could have important public health implications.

Anonymous said...

I confess, I am confused. Scenes of violent rapine, ugly sexual exploitation, gratuitous violence, gun culture etc. etc. these we are told, have repeatedly been told are art imitating life and most certainly will not lead to life imitating art, nosir, the kiddies will not start bashing and jumping up and down n helpless little girls and using daddy's garden tools as recreational aids simply cause they saw it in the movies.
Advertising does not brainwash people into buying stuff that tastes like shit, has no nutritional value and costs ten times what it should, no nosir, I have that all wrong, it is simply either entertainment or information.

Show em a cigarette and they just won't be able to help themselves, zombie like they will head for the nearest tobacconist and buy cigarettes.


Mark Wadsworth said...

To be honest, I'm not entirely keen on people smoking in films, as it gives me the sudden urge to light up in sympathy. Which, unfortunately, sort of supports the bansturbators' point of view.