Ad 94

The Hollywood Reporter, Variety
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In the 1920s, Americans smoked less than they do now. Why does Gatsby tell another story?
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In the 1920s, Americans smoked less than they do now. Why does Gatsby tell another story? The Great Gatsby (PG-13, Time Warner) is based on a novel that mentions smoking eight times. In contrast, the latest film version features more than 150 smoking incidents. It has already delivered 2.5 billion tobacco impressions to today’s theater audiences. The Gatsby name has long been exploited to promote smoking. Three stars from the 1949 version of Gatsby were signed up to advertise Camel or Lucky Strike cigarettes: Alan Ladd (Jay Gatsby), Ruth Hussey (Jordan Baker) and Shelley Winters (Myrtle Wilson). Brown & Williamson, now part of British-American Tobacco, registered “Gatsby” as a cigarette brand in 1974, the same year Paramount released the third filmed version of Gatsby. From the 1970s to the 1990s, RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris and Lorillard consumer-tested Gatsby brand names and advertising. But the association with 1920s smoking is phony. As the chart below shows, Americans in the Jazz Age smoked less than Americans smoke today. Why do we think “everybody” smoked in the past? Movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s were made amid secret tobacco deals with studios and millions in payoffs to top film stars, all designed to drive cigarette sales. Films shaped by the tobacco industry back then shape our memories today. Later, in the 1970s, after tobacco ads were banned from TV, the tobacco industry started placing its product in Hollywood movies, including many kid-rated films. Once-secret tobacco industry documents show product placement campaigns continued for at least twenty-five years, into the 1990s. Tobacco in Hollywood movies continues to manipulate reality, not reflectit. Among recent PG-13 movies, fictional period dramas like Gatsby show the most smoking. But young audiences actually get more of their tobacco exposure from fantasy films with no pretense to realism. The more smoking kids see, whether it’s phony history or comic book fantasy, the more likely they’ll smoke. That’s why global health authorities call for adult-rating all future films with smoking, with two exceptions: if they depict an actual person who smoked or else the real consequences of tobacco use. If your movie demands more smoking than that, simply take an“R.” Per capita cigarette consumption, 1900-2012 In 1922, Americans smoked less than in 2012—and 80% less than at the peak in 1963. Color bands show the film and tobacco industries partnered to push smoking in at least 7 of the last 9 decades.
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