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December 20, 2010

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Smokefree Movies ad: California taxpayers subsidize Burlesque to promote smoking

On January 1, California will start handing out tax credits for Hollywood film productions. Burlesque will be one of the first in line, set to receive $7,225,306 according to the state’s film commission. The problem from a public health standpoint? Burlesque is a PG-13 film with smoking by two major characters (Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell). You’ll also glimpse a Camel logo, among at least twenty other alcohol, cookie, cereal and other nationally-advertised brands.   Our ad in Variety this week quotes the film’s writer/director wondering if he’ll benefit from all the commercial name dropping. We politely point out that smoking in kid-rated movies could cause regulators to question product placement in general, make advertisers screen films for smoking before getting on board, and make it harder for the major studios to claim hundreds of millions from taxpayers for what amount to 90-minute commercials.   For a perspective on California’s film subsidies, see Dan Morain’s piece in The Sacramento Bee (Dec. 12).

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