Tag Archives: smoking in films

Tougher anti-tobacco rules for TV, films

Henceforth, every time an actor is seen taking a puff on screen, a prominent scroll warning that smoking is injurious to health will run at the bottom. What’s more, the actor will personally read out the ill-effects of smoking, say the new health ministry rules to be effective from Monday.

According to the rules, all filmmakers depicting usage of tobacco will have to show a message or spot of minimum 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the concerned film or TV programme.

Smoking Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp smoking in The Tourist movie

For films or programmes being made after Monday, a strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products or their use shall be given to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with a UA certification.

A representative from health ministry will also be present in the CBFC.

It will also need a disclaimer of minimum 20 seconds duration by the concerned actor regarding the ill effects of the use of such products in the beginning and middle of the film or television programme.

Also, the names of brands of cigarettes and other tobacco products will also have to be cropped or blurred.

“India has the largest film producing industry and films have played a key role in the process of social change and in influencing the Indian culture. Thus, for the tobacco industry, films provide an opportunity to convert a deadly product into a status symbol or token of independence,” a statement from the ministry said Friday.

“The role of movies as vehicles for promoting tobacco use has become even more important as other forms of tobacco promotion are constrained,” it said.

According to a combined study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the health ministry, tobacco usage was shown in nearly 89 percent movies in 2005 compared to 76 percent in 2003.

Nearly 75 percent of the movies showed the lead character smoking in 2005 and 41 percent showed the brand.

Hollywood ‘paid fortune to smoke’

Industry documents released following anti-smoking lawsuits reveal the extent of the relationship between tobacco and movie studios.

One firm paid more than $3m in today’s money in one year to stars.

Researchers writing in the Tobacco Control journal said “classic” films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s still helped promote smoking today.

Tobacco firms paid huge amounts for endorsements from the stars of Hollywood's 	"Golden Age	".

Tobacco firms paid huge amounts for endorsements from the stars of Hollywood's "Golden Age ".


Virtually all of the biggest names of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were involved in paid cigarette promotion, according to the University of California at San Francisco researchers.

They obtained endorsement contracts signed at the times to help them calculate just how much money was involved.

See how much the stars were paid to promote tobacco

According to the research, stars prepared to endorse tobacco included Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Bette Davis and Betty Grable.

Big payments

Deals dated from the start of the “talkie” era, with “Jazz Singer” star Al Jolson signing testimonials stating that the “Lucky Strike” brand was “the cigarette of the acting profession”.

“The good old flavor of Luckies is as sweet and soothing as the best ‘Mammy’ song ever written,” he wrote.
One of the key documents uncovered by the researchers was a list of payments for a single year in the late 1930s detailing how much stars were paid by American Tobacco, the makers of Lucky Strike.

Leading ladies Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck and Myrna Loy were handed $10,000, equivalent to just under $150,000 in today’s money, to endorse the brand, as were Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Robert Taylor.
Together, the annual price of paying actors was $3.2m in 2008 terms.

Radio adverts

In some cases, tobacco firms would pay movie studios to create radio shows which featured their stars’ endorsements.

American Tobacco paid Warner Brothers the equivalent of $13.7m for 1937’s “Your Hollywood Parade”, and sponsored The Jack Benny Show from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s.

The latter featured stars such as Lauren Bacall giving carefully scripted testimonials.

The researchers, led by Professor Stanton Glantz, said that the effects of the millions poured into Hollywood by “Big Tobacco” could still be felt today, despite a recent self-imposed ban on promotion within films.

They say that smoking imagery in films can influence younger people to start smoking.

They wrote: “As in the 1930s, nothing today prevents the global tobacco industry from influencing the film industry in any number of ways.”

“Classic” films with smoking scenes, such as “Casablanca” and “Now, Voyager”, and glamorous publicity images helped to “perpetuate public tolerance” of on-screen smoking, they said.

UK anti-smoking group ASH said that while smoking imagery could not be “outlawed completely”, there was an argument for clearer warnings before films.