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Cigarette Smoking

December 20, 1985

I'm ecstatic about the American Medical Assn. calling for a ban on cigarette advertising, and I sincerely hope the doctors have enough clout to stop cigarette companies from sponsoring sports tournaments as well.

Another area they might address--smoking on the screen. Just as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis et al, convinced thousands of earlier moviegoers that smoking was sophisticated and glamorous, today's films, too, depict smoking in a positive light. And there's no excuse for it in the 1980s, knowing what we now know about tobacco's addictive, health-destroying capabilities.

We saw the movie "Chorus Line," and were struck by Michael Douglas' portrayal of Zach, who is a supposedly brilliant producer casting dancers for his new musical. Throughout the film, as the young dancers look up to him literally and emotionally, he lights cigarette after cigarette; he's depicting stress, obsession with his work, perfectionism, whatever. Message to young people: If they smoke as much as Zach does, maybe they too will acquire some of his success, his glamour, his talent. Alternate message: When the going gets tough, the tough light up.

Most of our real winners aren't smokers. When will our film makers find another way to indicate extreme busyness and do away with the overused, wrongfully influential cigarette-lighting routine altogether?

TARA NICOLA

Hollywood

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