Thursday, July 26, 2007

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em (but not for long)

Cruela de Vil better invest in some Nicorette. Continuing the current trend toward shunning smokers and their cancer sticks, the Walt Disney Company announced that it will "discourage depictions of cigarette smoking" in future movies and include an anti-smoking PSA on future DVD releases of films that feature smoking.

The obvious question is one that has been debated for the past few decades--do cinematic depictions of smoking actually encourage kids and teens to light up? I'm inclined to say that it could have a negative effect, but only in a society where smoking is looked upon as acceptable and not discouraged. We don't live in that society anymore.

Disney's proclamation comes on the heels of another anti-smoking boon--Monday's announcement that Illinois will become the 19th state to enforce a statewide smoking ban as of January 1, 2008.

As a non-smoker with several relatives and acquaintances who have succumbed to lung cancer, I am definitely in favor of these measures. Smoking is a personal decision and there's no reason why the negative effects of that decision should be public. Nevertheless, it's incredible to see how the tide has turned against smoking in a relatively short period of time. We've come a long way, baby, from the days when the Flintstones were hawking Winstons on commercial television and smoking was considered glamorous for women and cool for men.
It's hard to imagine anyone telling Bogey to take his cigarette outside. But, as you read this, the smokey bars and clubs that previously put up with puffing are quickly going the way of the dinosaurs. Even in my lifetime, I vividly remember cigarette vending machines near the doorway of many restaurants, while Joe Camel would peer up from magazine ads and look down from highway billboards. Today it's a rare occurrence to even hear those three little words that used to be synonomous with eating out: "Smoking or Non?"

But people continue to light up, despite the outrageous costs to their lungs and their wallets. We're getting to the point where institutions are making it increasingly difficult for smokers to smoke freely, but people are still choosing to do it. It's pretty incredible.

Lastly, remember those commercials against Big Tobacco that showed people in body bags and used other scare tactics to present facts about the dangers of smoking? Well, those ads referred to a site called "" I never visited the site at the time, but if you go there now, it links to something called, a snazzy site that takes forever to load and isn't very obvious about its intentions and seems to be going for some level of cool that I guess I'm just not stylish enough to understand. I guess the anti-smoking message can be packaged and sold, too.

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