Thursday 16 February 2012

More movie madness

Last night I watched Bridesmaids (it's pretty good). I didn't notice any smoking in it, but then I'm not a wide-eyed obsessive living in terror of a waft of on-screen smoke. Apparently, however, at least one person does smoke at some point because the film is named and shamed in Stanton Glantz's latest work of pseudo-academia. According to the great mechanical engineer, the movie has delivered 60,020,706 "tobacco impressions" and so has led to hundreds, if not thousands, of youngsters to suddenly taking up the habit.

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.


Anonymous said...

Well if all these smoking-impressions, children seeing people smoke, are responsible for forcing children to turn into smokers - then why is it the anti-smoking industry has paid a pretty penny to run ads the size of billboards on the sides of San Francisco city buses which depict teenagers smoking in sexy scanty poses while claiming it's not glamorous, while touting it all over town for children's and teenager's eyes to see? Isn't that the anti-smoking industry doing the same thing, the same with their ads on TV that put the image of smoking in highly viewed (and extremely expensive) prime-time TV spots all over the entire state of California? Why is it okay that they get to put smoking imagery using taxpayer money all over everything - but some independent film producer uses a character depiction where a puff of smoke is barely seen and the anti-smoking industry claims full monopoly over being the only ones qualified to produce smoking imagery - which they do - and they do so in abundance, at great expense, in the bankrupt state of California.

Ann W. said...

"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."

oh,oh....may I introduce you to our Canadian monomaniacs:
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
"We thus estimate that exposure to on screen smoking will cause 43,000 premature deaths among current Canadian smokers ages 15-19"

"Smoking on screen continues to normalize the act of smoking. Health Canada and other non-government organizations are trying to de-normalize tobacco the fact is, smoking occurs on film more frequently than it does in everyday life! Ever wonder why?"


The Ontario Coalition for Smoke- Free Movies
"Research has shown that the more youth see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start. In 2009, Canadian theatres delivered over 1.1 billion tobacco impressions in youth rated films alone. It is important to note that since movies are also viewed on DVD and Blue-ray, video-on-demand, cable, satellite, broadcast and broadband media that 1.1 billion underestimates total tobacco impressions viewed in youth-rated films."
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.

Three Quarters (73%) of Ontarians Support Not Allowing Smoking in Movies Rated G, PG or 14A - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Belinda said...

Consultation on smoking ban exemption for film and television in Wales:

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I have understood all this correctly.
Advertising influences people to buy things, research confirms this.

Watching scenes of violence, rape and destruction does not influence people to go out on the rampage, research confirms this.

Watching someone smoking a cigarette, cigar or pipe will induce an irresistible urge to do likewise, one idiots imagination confirms this.

Bread buttered both sides.
Is that right?

Anonymous said...

WTF is that livescore post?

But back on topic: For decades it's been cheaper to shoot in other countries (Vancouver used to be the spot) but I bet Mexico could use some of the production money that the broke CA would forfeit if Glantz got his way.

Why do these idiots think when they pass a law that no one will ever think to find a way around it?


Anonymous said...

There is no denying that the screen influences you. I can vividly remember watching 'The Lone Ranger' in the early 60,s yet still to this day when I pull off in my car I scream 'Hi Ho Silver'. Normally resulting me in dropping my fag by the way.