December 9, 2015

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

In James Bond's Spectre, a little tobacco goes global

“A license to kill is also a license not to kill,” says James Bond’s new boss, the mysterious M, in Spectre (2015).
The film’s producers didn’t pay attention. Despite years of warnings from WHO and the CDC, tobacco shows up in the latest Bond film alongside a record twenty-three product placements for beer, watches, cars and other brands.
Spectre’s opening shot shows a giant skeleton puffing a cigar in a Mexico City parade on the Day of the Dead. Bond (Daniel Craig) soon has Spectre assassin Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) — and Sciarra’s cigarette — in his sniper scope.
Those are the only tobacco images in the two-and-a-half hour film. Yet by 6 December 2015, they had delivered 247 million tobacco impressions to US and Canadian moviegoers alone.
Spectre’s Mexico City sequences were reportedly subsidized with $14 million in cash. This it least $10 million more than the producers might be expected to receive from Mexico’s national film subsidy programs, according to tax policy website Tax Analysis.
James Bond and the actors who play him have long been linked to tobacco promotion. Example? License to Kill (1989) carried a product placement deal worth more than $670,000 in today’s dollars. For that film, the producers gave Bond (Timothy Dalton) a Lark cigarette pack rigged to trigger a remote bomb.

The Philip Morris deal on License to Kill launched Bond-themed ad campaigns that opened the Japanese tobacco market to the company's world brands. When news broke of the payoff, US film distributor MGM/United Artists added a tobacco warning to the film's closing credits, quoting the US Surgeon General.
Most recent Bond films
Casino Royale (2006) — Daniel Craig, tapped as the next James Bond, complains in an interview: "I can blow off someone's head at close range and splatter blood, but I can't light a good Cuban cigar." Indeed, nobody smokes in this $200 million film, reportedly at the producers’ direction.
Quantum of Solace (2008) — Tobacco is back. CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) puff a cigar and an extra also smokes, delivering 422 million tobacco impressions to domestic moviegoers.
Skyfall (2012) — In Macao (actually a British studio set), femme fatale played by Bérénice Marlohe sports a cigarette throughout a scene of betrayal and seduction. Skyfall delivered more than one billion tobacco impressions to domestic moviegoers.
Spectre (2015) — The producers present an outsized cigar that will hold up well on the small, hand-held video screens for months and years to come. The film also gives one of the shortest-lived Bond villains on record a last cigarette.
Summary: Since James Bond quit smoking in 2006, MGM and Sony have released three more 007 films, all rated PG-13, with more than fifty tobacco incidents. The films have delivered 1.7 billion tobacco impressions domestically — and more internationally and on video. With production costs totalling $500 million, Bond films with smoking since 2008 were eligible for an estimated $90 million in taxpayer subsidies, mostly in the UK. 
View Smokefree Movie ads about Skyfall (2012) and Quantum of Solace (2008).
This report was drafted by my colleague Jonathan Polansky using data from Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, a project of Breathe California.
This blog post is cross-posted from the Smoke Free Movies blog at

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