Double Standards: Smoking

As those of you who are UK based will have heard, there has been a discussion in the media, over the past week, on whether films showing scenes of people smoking should be given a Certificate 18.  On one particular report I watched, on the BBC, a film critic was saying that it was not the film industry’s job to educate teenagers.  The doctor on the other end of the couch was vehement that films with cigarette smoking scenes were influential in teenagers taking up smoking.  So, once again, Matthew Hopkins is off on a witch hunting spree.


Interestingly, only about sixty years ago, the medical profession, with trust-inspiring consistency, not only took part in cigarette commercials, but was known to recommend smoking for weight loss, and as being beneficial for your throat and voice.  Some of you may have seen the superb film, The King’s Speech, in which the future George VI is told by doctors that smoking will ease his stammer.


No.  I am not, nor have I ever been a smoker.  No.  I am not advocating smoking.  Personally, I find it unpleasant to inhale the acrid, clawing smell of ready packaged cigarettes – especially when I am eating.  It makes sense even to my medically untrained mind, that breathing in smoke laced with ammonia, cadmium, mercury and arsenic must, surely, be harmful to one’s health.  I just feel that, for the sake of fairness and a sense of proportion, smokers should not be alone in being submitted to public persecution.


I understand that pollution levels in London frequently reach higher levels than those permitted by the EU legislation.  I am sure we would welcome a campaign by the powers that speak out on behalf our health, to reduce these levels.  Just blow your nose after a ride on the Tube, and you will see.


When I was nineteen, a doctor examined an x-ray of my lungs, frowned, and told me to stop smoking.  I did not smoke.  I just lived in a city.


You will argue that we cannot do without cars or the Tube.  Fair enough.  But, on a polluted Earth where the price of fuel is constantly rising, and fossil fuel reserves shrinking, what exactly is the value of car and motorbike racing? I have never heard anyone pose the question.


We are told that teenagers are encouraged to smoke if they see actors on the screen light up a cigarette.  I will not argue with that because, in all honesty, I do not know if that is true or not.  Let us assume it is so.  In that case, why is nobody concerned about teenagers watching people drink numerous pints of beer, have a casual sex without a single thought, and inflict extreme violence on one another? Why is no one outraged by the misogynist attitudes in James Bond films? Why is no one concerned about exploring the possible influence of superficial, brainless, shoe-obsessed female characters i TV series on our teenage girls?


Could we get a sense of proportion over here, please? And, while we are at it, a helping of common sense?


See BBC report on


See doctors advertising Camels on

© Scribe Doll

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4 Responses to Double Standards: Smoking

  1. The King’s Speech is a superb film, you are absolutely right, but I think smoking certainly does influence teenagers into thinking that smoking is cool, which it isn’t, and that all celebrities are doing it, which they aren’t.

    • Maybe there’s a slightly buttinski way of getting out of this dilemma–while continuing to make movies in which characters in their own historically appropriate times smoke, the theatres could put up “Public Service Notices” (how much would it cost if each theatre made a screen of its own? Just like the “Let’s Go Out to the Lobby” scene of the dancing popcorn boxes and drinks and candy that someone seems to have circulated to all theatres since time began). The notices could say something, issue a disclaimer like “While characters are shown smoking in the feature film for the sake of historical accuracy, this theatre does not support nor endorse smoking, nor encourage its audience members to smoke. Nor does it allow smoking on its property” (thus taking the “No Smoking” ban in theatres a little farther than before). There might be some hoots and howls, but it would at least be a step forward.

  2. adrian says:

    I blame the rock spoof ‘Spinal Tap’ for my ridiculous, long hair in the mid-80s – I was a vulnerable, easily-influenced teenager and unable to make my own decisions …….

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