Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

May 27, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Streaming technologies have exploded Hollywood's old business models. The COVID-19 pandemic, as of spring 2020, has halted studio production and distribution in the US and Europe.

Many ask if the movie industry will ever be the same again.

But a new report from UCSF's Smokefree Movies project and Breathe California Sacramento Region may leave you asking if Hollywood has fundamentally changed at all.

Nearly a century after Big Tobacco started exploiting movies to sell its addictive product, and fully half a century since America banned tobacco commercials from TV and radio, smoking is on the rise on more screens than ever. Yet film and TV ratings still don't take tobacco into account.

Some of the new report's major findings:

• The amount of smoking in top-grossing movies rose to 3,618 incidents in 2019, the most in more than a decade.

• In-theater tobacco impressions more than doubled over the past five years, from 9.3 billion in 2015 to 23.7 billion in 2019.

• For the first year since this survey began, in 2019 independent movie companies accounted for more than half of youth-rated movies with smoking, youth-rated tobacco incidents, and youth-rated tobacco impressions. Independents also released a historically high number of R-rated movies with smoking.

May 26, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Tanner Wakefield and I just released our long-awaited “state report” on tobacco policymaking in Louisiana, Blowing Smoke Out of the Bayou:  The Battle for Tobacco Control in Louisiana.   This report covers Louisiana’s rich history of battling the tobacco industry in the half-century since the 1970s.


This is, by far, the longest state report we have ever published, which reflects the fact that every possible tobacco control policy has been the subject of vigorous debate – and progress – in Louisiana.  In most states, a few issues – smokefree laws, taxes, tort reform, and others – are the central focus.  Louisiana had them all.  This research also benefitted from many internal tobacco industry documents that allowed us to dig into the behind-the-scenes activities of the industry and its allies.


Here is the Executive Summary:


•     Louisiana consistently ranks nearly last for health and smoking in the United States.

•     As of 2018, Louisiana had above average smoking prevalence for adults (20.5%) and youth (13.5% of high school and 3.8% for middle school students) in the United States (44th for adults).

•     The tobacco industry dominated Louisiana tobacco control policymaking during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

May 25, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Last March Jasmine Khouja and colleagues published “Is e-cigarette use in non-smoking young adults associated with later smoking? A systematic review and meta-analysis” in Tobacco Control.  This is the most comprehensive meta-analysis to data and convincingly shows that youth and young adults (up to age 30) who initiate nicotine use with e-cigarettes are, much more likely to be smoking cigarettes later.

The paper includes 17 studies from the US, UK, Mexico, Germany, and the Netherlands. Every single one of these studies showed that e-cigarette use was associated with significantly increased odds of subsequent cigarette smoking initiation.

May 22, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Locking down doesn't mean falling silent.

In this YouTube video, Cathy Rowan, representing the Maryknoll Sisters, asks the CEO of Netflix to pledge to keep future videos with substantial youth viewership smokefree — and keep tobacco brands out of all future videos, regardless of rating.

She asks CEO Reed Hastings (2019 compensation, $38.6 million):

With young people out of school and spending more time in front of the screen, how many are learning to smoke?

#AskTheCEO is a program started by the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), more than 300 global institutional investors managing half a trillion doillars in assets. The online feature directs shareholder questions to CEOs in virtual shareholder meetings. 

Socially-responsible investors have long worked to get smoking out of the films and TV shows that kids see most. They have filed shareholder resolutions and carry on direct dialogues with many of America's biggest media companies.

May 20, 2020

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Candice Bowling, Amy Hafez and I just published “Public Health and Medicine’s Need to Respond to Cannabis Commercialization in the United States: A Commentary” in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.  This paper traces the entry of multinational corporations into the cannabis business and describes how current federal drug policy makes it almost impossible to conduct research on the products people are actually using.  The resulting information vacuum plays into Big Business’ hands because it means that most of the health “information” is coming from the companies who are profiting from selling these new products. 

We also highlight the need for health advocacy groups to more broadly enter the cannabis policy debate.  With a couple notable exceptions, such as the American Public Health Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, the silence of health and medical groups has left a vacuum that is being filled by cannabis advocates.

This is not an argument against decriminalization; it is an argument for federal policy to catch up with reality so that personal, clinical, and policy positions can be based on evidence.

Here is the abstract: