Why the lack of outrage over smoking depicted in film and television?

January 20, 2014

To Senators Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, and Edward Markey

cc: Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

cc: Ari Emanuel, CEO, William Morris Endeavor

Dear Senators:

Recently, two people at the Golden Globes awards show (Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) were photographed smoking e-cigarettes. Then, your group of senators (i.e. Durbin, Blumenthal, Brown, and Markey) wrote a letter to NBC and the Golden Globes producers expressing concern that the images would help promote real cigarette smoking.

With such outrage over two obscure glimpses of e-cigarettes, why then is nothing being said about this pervasive film directing style that shows close-ups of actors smoking real cigarettes?

The latest example of this cinematic style is the new HBO drama “True Detectives”. Every single scene (no exaggeration) of Matthew McConaughey shows him with a cigarette in his mouth. It is repulsive. I have to look away.

More concerning than my discomfort is that this show now encourages smoking by associating one of the most admired leading men in Hollywood with chain smoking. I could list dozens of other films and TV dramas that also portray smoking the same way.

Hollywood violence, in film and video games, encourages violence. Now, Hollywood portrayals of cigarette smokers is promoting cancer.

Why is there no outrage?

Steven E. Greer, MD

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