Zoo Station

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How to make smoking cool again…

Posted by Chance on October 23, 2006

It seems that the act of smoking cigarettes has taken quite a hit concerning social standing in society. In older movies, and maybe even television shows, it was not a surprise to see anyone light up. However, smoking seems to be losing popularity. Most people perceive it as a nasty habit, or may even enjoy smoking but give it up based on health reasons. Smoking is something that was associated with a somewhat rebellious image, something cool, but that seems to have changed over time.

Smoking is something that has never interested me. I’ve just never had a desire to do it. I still don’t, although, I must admit, a small part of me wishes I did. Why? Because there is a tiny side of me that wants to rebel against the anti-smoking zealots. Now, I am not even talking about the smoking ban, that is a much more complex issue involving property rights, and I don’t want to unravel that right now. I am talking about censorship. I read an article sometime back about censorship concerning smoking. For some reason, I thought I saw it at Lee’s blog, but it turns out it was at the Cato Institute Blog. The post says

Cartoon editors are painstakingly working through more than 1,500 episodes of classic Tom and Jerry, Flintstones, and Scooby Doo cartoons to erase scenes of characters – gasp – smoking. Turner Broadcasting says it’s a voluntary decision, but the move comes after a report from Ofcom, which has regulatory authority over British broadcasters. So in this case “censorship” seems a reasonable term.

It’s not the first time. France’s national library airbrushed a cigarette out of a poster of Jean-Paul Sartre to avoid falling foul of an anti-tobacco law. The US postal service has removed the cigarettes from photographs on stamps featuring Jackson Pollock, Edward R. Murrow, and Robert Johnson. And in the 20th-anniversary rerelease of ET, Steven Spielberg replaced the policemen’s guns with walkie-talkies.

On one level, this is just a joke: they are redrawing cartoons to make them more kid-friendly. And just to make the rules completely PC, Turner is allowed to leave cigarettes in the hands of cartoon villains.

But there’s something deeper here: an attempt to sanitize history, to rewrite it the way we wish it had happened. Smoking is a part of reality, and especially a part of history. Just look at any old movie. Everyone smokes: doctors, pregnant women, lovers. Real people smoked, too – people like Murrow and Pollock and Sartre. And some of them died of lung and throat cancer, which parents and teachers can point out. It’s Orwellian to airbrush historical photos in order to remove evidence of that of which you disapprove.

Franklin D. Roosevelt spent decades trying to conceal the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair. Historians say that out of more than 10,000 photographs of FDR, only four show him using a wheelchair. Those are the ones that are now used in textbooks and at the FDR Memorial in Washington. One victory for historical accuracy. However, the FDR Memorial removed the ever-present cigarette from FDR’s hands. Orwell’s ministry of truth would be proud.

The article has many good points, but I wanted to focus on the one about smoking. As I said previously, it seems like smoking is losing it’s “cool” image. And that is mainly people deciding for themselves that smoking is a bad idea, and certain voluntary groups, I believe, are helping in the effort. Smoking is viewed as more “dangerous”, but not in a cool way anymore, but in a “give you lung cancer” sort of way. However, when government steps in, I think it can have the reverse effect. Look at me. I am the least rebellious person I know. Even though I have many libertarian viewpoints, I consider myself a person with a conservative lifestyle and someone with few vices, other than the additional Hershey’s bar from time to time. But also, when I see such nanny-state behavior, it makes me wish I smoked just to throw it in the anti-smoking zealot’s face. If such actions affect me in such a way, how about the rebellious teenager?


6 Responses to “How to make smoking cool again…”

  1. Chuck Norris said

    I don’t need Nunchucks. The power of one of my kicks has the devastation of two atom bombs.

    Check the link.

  2. Lee said

    “But also, when I see such nanny-state behavior, it makes me wish I smoked just to throw it in the anti-smoking zealot’s face. If such actions affect me in such a way, how about the rebellious teenager.”

    Yeah, I understand that completely. It’s like the urge to eat fried chicken in front of an animal rights activist.

    The whole bit about sanitizin history and Orwell’s ministry of truth… dead on.

    I like the fact that my blog name has Nicotine in it, just because it’s such a no-no nowadays.

  3. Anonymous said

    Hey, much appreciate your blogging on the tobacco ban issue. I work at the Drug Policy Alliance, the worlds leading organization promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. I am contacting you because I think we could have an interesting dialogue on this subject, agreeing on some points and disagreeing on others, but all and all productive and interesting. You can check out our myspace page, website, and posts on YouTube. Also, we will be releasing a poll this Thursday regarding Americans feelings towards cigarette bans, and in particular, making cigarettes illegal. The results are quite shocking. We will have a tobacco page set up this week on our website to expand on the issues involved in the poll results. I would love for you to check out our materials, and blog your response. It should be an interesting and educational debate. Thanks,

    and great work,


  4. preacherman said

    I don’t get cigarettes or cancer sticks. You get much more nicotine in cigars. They taste better too and last longer.

  5. The Prophet said

    Hey, what do you think of this for your new template? Click HERE!

  6. Michael Westmoreland-White said

    I consider smoking to be the dumbest thing possible. Making it “cool” is inexcusable.

    Smoking not only hurts the smoker, but everyone around them. I go to work and there are signs telling smokers to smoke only in designated areas (smoke shacks). They ignore them and smoke in the rest of our faces. I figure smoking must retard reading ability.

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