Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

October 5, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
On 29 September 2011, more than a dozen prominent European tobacco control scholars, citing evidence that movies with smoking harm European young people, made a formal submission to a European Commission's consultation on State aid to audiovisual works (HT2950) that recommended that future media projects with smoking should be ineligible for public subsidy.
Among others, ASH UK and the Brussels-based European Network for Smoking Prevention noted that six of ten nations handing over the world's largest tax credits to top-grossing films with tobacco imagery were EU members: the UK, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, France and Hungary. Between 2008 and mid-2011 EU countries granted more than €260 million (US$ 350 million) in subsidies to top-grossing movies with smoking. Almost all of these films were developed by US film studios.

October 4, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The tobacco industry has spent decades working to convince developing countries as well as funding agencies that they should not "waste" their time on tobacco control, but rather focus on infectious diseases like tuberculosis at the same time that the multinational tobacco companies were expanding aggressively in those very countries.

We just published a paper that modernizes mathematical models of the global TB epidemic to include the effects of smoking and passive smoking. This paper shows that, because smoking and passive smoking facilitate the spread of TB and the transition from infection to active TB, continued increases in smoking in much of the world will dramatically delay achieving the Millennium Development Goals for controlling TB. Indeed, in some parts of the world they will never be met.

This fact further bolsters the case that implementing global tobacco control, as described in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is a key element of the development agenda because of the impact on infectious disease, as well as the connections for noncommunicable diseases identified in the UN High Level Summit a couple weeks ago. Reducing tobacco use is crucial for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for TB. Tobacco control is tuberculosis control.

October 3, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Jonathan Polansky and I just published a paper in the peer reviewed journal Tobacco Control that analyzed how much money 1232 moves released in the USA between 2002 and 2010 made. After controlling for when the movie was released, the film rating and production budget (a proxy for presence of stars, production values of the film and how heavily the film was promoted), we found that films with smoking grossed 13% less than comparable smokefree movies.

Because PG-13 smokefree films already made 41% more money at the box office than R-rated films with smoking (median $48.6 million vs. $34.4  million), implementing an R rating for smoking to remove it from youth-rated films will not conflict with the economic self interest of producers.

Even smokefree R rated movies made more money than smoking R movies.

Indeed, given Hollywood's obsession with making money, one wonders what the incentive is to keep the smoking in films.  Art?

Read the paper at  

September 28, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The WHO has issued an updated version of its report, "Smoke-free Movies: From Evidence to Action."  This report updates the science (and had the benefit of advance copies of the recent research from Europe as well as knowledge of Simon Chapman's position), reviews the state of policy making around the world, and directlt  addresses the new issue of government subsidies to films with smoking. 

Here is what the report says about these subsidies: "These subsidies indirectly promote tobacco use through media, and therefore are counter to WHO FCTC Article 13 and its guidelines."  This is a particularly important conclusion in light of the fact that the EU has opened a public consultation on the issue of film subsidies and the EU is a party to the FCTC.  So is Canada, another FCTC party, where advocates are raising the issue of subsidies to films with smoking.

Here is how the WHO describes the new report on its web site (I added the bold):

WHO releases the second edition of the smoke-free movies report. It underlines the fact that, in some countries, many of the youth-rated films that contain tobacco imagery are the recipients of significant government production subsidies.

September 28, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Hard evidence shows that implementing policies to cut tobacco use immediately improves health and reduces health care spending, say authors in this week's issue of The Lancet. The researchers' myth-busting Viewpoint argues that tobacco control does not, as is often assumed, take decades to show a benefit, nor does the economic benefit from tobacco revenue outweigh the healthcare savings.

Tobacco is responsible for about a sixth of the non-communicable diseases  - such as cancer - that kill 60% of the world's people. Last week, a high-level UN meeting convened to discuss how to prevent such diseases and adopted a wide-ranging "political declaration". This declaration recognised the importance of non-communicable diseases and the significant role of tobacco in causing them. It also pledged member states to work to reduce these diseases. While the benefits of cutting out tobacco use are now well-known, legislation and policies curtailing its use are still too weak and not widespread enough, say Prof Stanton Glantz and Mariaelena Gonzalez, at the University of California, San Francisco, USA. The reasons for this are the short-term revenue from tobacco taxes and the myth that the benefits of cutting tobacco use takes decades to materialise.