“In a stunning, courageous admission that they no longer have any serious work left to do, attorneys general in two dozen states recently sent a letter to the Motion Picture Association of America asking that Hollywood minimize smoking in movies so youngsters won’t be gulled into lighting up.” (Nick Gillespie, “Tinselectomy”, Reason, Aug. 29). Check out Gillespie’s list of other destructive behaviors that Hollywood glamorizes, especially the last item. Supposedly the self-censorship will be voluntary: “We’re not saying any law has been broken,” said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a rather remarkable admission since there is precisely zero reason for any filmmaker to pay attention to this particular grouping of law enforcement functionaries other than the fear that they could cause some sort of legal trouble in the future unless placated. (“States Ask Hollywood to Cut Film Smoking “, AP/Fox News, Aug. 27).
The effort “comes across looking a lot like intimidation,” editorializes the L.A. Daily News. “That’s why advocacy is best left to many able, anti-smoking advocacy groups, and why the AGs ought to stick to doing their jobs. Cigarettes might not belong in most films, but government meddling belongs in none of them.” (reprinted in Long Beach Press-Telegram, Aug. 27). Andrew Stuttaford also comments at NRO “The Corner” (Aug. 30) and see Jacob Sullum, “Smoky Screen”, Reason, Jun. 16.