The Centers for Disease Control released a report today on the prevalence of cigarette smoking in movies, and, as you might guess, they found that there’s too damn much of it. According to the CDC’s analysis, nearly half of all the popular movies released in 2009 contained some sort of “tobacco imagery,” including 54 percent of the films that were rated PG-13. If you dig deeper into the numbers, though, it turns out that the prevalence of smoking in movies has actually dropped by half since 2005, which was Hollywood’s cigarette-smoking-est year on record (well, at least going back to 1991). Still, the CDC isn’t about to give the film industry a pass on the issue: In fact, to prevent Hollywood from glamorizing cigarette use for impressionable younger viewers, the CDC advocates slapping with an automatic R rating any movie that shows someone smoking a cigarette. Get it, kids? Smoking isn’t cool! In fact, it’s so uncool that it can only be shown in those movies that have nudity, bad words, violence, and other stuff too awesome for you to see until you’re 17!
Sorry to be glib. But personally I feel like I hardly ever see anyone smoking in movies anymore. On Mad Men, sure, but in movies? Not so much—certainly not compared with the old, pre-PC days when seemingly everyone in movies smoked and no one gave it a second thought. But are you still noticing a lot of cigarettes in movies? Does it bother you—and, if so, do you think it should earn a movie an R rating? And since we’re on the topic, what’s the all-time most smoking-intensive movie you can think of? I nominate the 1986 black comedy Withnail and I. Back in college, one of my roommates once tried to match Richard E. Grant’s non-stop smoking in that movie — cigarette-for-cigarette — and nearly puked out a lung. What’s your pick?