EIC denounces tobacco use

Lighting up a cigarette onscreen always seemed like a cool thing to do. It gave actors dimension, a tool for expressing angst — or at least something to do with their hands.

No more.

Following Vice President Al Gore’s meeting this week with a delegation from Hollywood during which he denounced the glamorization of smoking in movies and on TV, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) announced Thursday a tobacco prevention initiative aimed at writers, producers, directors and creative executives.

The EIC, an alliance of industry organizations and creative guilds, plans to issue 1,500 copies of its initiative, which includes suggestions as to when smoking might be appropriate in a film and, more significantly, when not. The industry should “try to reflect the reality that the majority of people don’t smoke,” a summary of the initiative said.

“Unless a character’s tobacco use truly reveals something important about the character, consider other unique behaviors that might convey the same information,” the EIC suggests. “Avoid using smoking as an icon or to stereotype an individual.”

Directors are being reminded that smoking in a scene often presents continuity problems and actors are warned that they may become addicted. “Cigarette smoke stains teeth and clothing” and “causes premature physical aging, especially in women,” the summary said.

What’s worse, it concludes, “none of this is sexy.”

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