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Anti-Tobacco Lobby Takes Aim At Movies

You loyal blog readers out there likely know how much we appreciate people trying to tell us what to do. It seems like every day some organization or another has decided it knows what’s best for everyone and makes it their mission to get everyone to agree with them. I came across yet another example today that is absolutely absurd to me, touting some unbelievable statistics in an effort to illustrate their futile point. Fortunately for us, today’s bunch of ninnies is north of the border, but they’re still too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned. The “Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada” have decided that movies depicting tobacco use should be given R ratings to discourage teens from taking up smoking.

Of course I don’t think that we should encourage teenagers to smoke, or market tobacco products to underage kids, but give me a break. A 15-year-old can walk into any theater in either country and see graphic murders, car crashes, suicides, war, and any other number of violent acts in PG13 (or 14A in Canada) films. That is no problem, but seeing an actor smoke is going to harm them? Those physicians claim that they have commissioned a study that “proves” 130,000 Canadian teens have taken up smoking because they saw it in a movie. Do they also have 130,000 teens that killed someone because they saw it on screen? And how did they come up with that ridiculous number anyways? Am I really supposed to believe that none of those teens would ever have smoked had they not walked into a theater that one fateful day? Maybe the kids were just too stressed from watching all the violence so they lit up. The influence of on-screen smoking seems like it would be impossible to quantify, yet these doctors are trumpeting their study as absolute truth. I’m sure that this study paid for by this anti-smoking lobby is very very unbiased. In case it’s not clear, that was me being very very sarcastic. The article goes on to state that one of the goals of implementing this rating system is to give movie producers a financial incentive to eliminate smoking from their films. Just what we need, another bunch of know-it-alls influencing the creative process of making the art we all enjoy.

I cannot understand why a bunch of doctors feels that the best way to make teens not smoke is to control the content in movies. How about some parenting? Most 15 year olds have to get a lift from their folks to get to the movies in the first place. So if the teen’s parents think they’re impressionable enough to start smoking from watching a movie, maybe they should just not let them go to the movie. Or, and I know this is way out of left field, but they could actually talk to their teen about smoking and have an honest dialog about the subject. Is a 2 second clip in a movie really more influential than a 15 minute talk with Dad? Maybe these nosy physicians should spend their time and money figuring out ways to help parents convince their kids not to smoke instead of butting in on our freedom of speech. I know talking is not going to stop every teen from smoking, but neither is eliminating cigars and cigarettes from movies.  Life isn’t perfect, and teenagers are always going to do bad stuff. That’s reality. And that’s what art does – imitate reality.