Simon Chapman, a Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney who specialises in tobacco control, warns that many of his colleagues in the health profession are seeking to have smoking in films either banned or classified R18+.
He writes in Crikey:
‘The Australian Medical Association now suggests that state and federal government funding be withdrawn from films that “glamorise, feature or promote smoking.’
‘Professor Stan Glantz from the University of California, who has done much of this research and maintains an advocacy website on it, says simply “I just want smoking to be treated like the word f-ck in movies”. Others point to the longstanding classification of illicit drug use, hard-end violence and sustained humpy-rumpy as tickets to R-certification. Tobacco kills five million worldwide a year, so why not treat smoking scenes like injecting drug scenes?’
‘But should movies, books, drama and entertainment generally be seen as simply part of some ideological state apparatus for promoting health, to be appropriated at will? If such precedents are set, awkward questions immediately arise about every single-issue “please don’t” area. No more shoot-outs, car chases, misogyny, cruelty to animals, racism, gluttony, sloth, unsafe s-x and anything promoting extreme, dangerous sport or leisure like mountaineering. Impressionable kids might get the wrong idea; movies would become nothing but anodyne vehicles for wholesome values.’
Read Simon’s article Never mind the zealots: smoking has a role in film here.