Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Dec. 26, 2005)

Just Say No to Anti-Tobacco Activists

  By John Martin

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution suggestion for the anti-smoking lobby – butt out!  These people have become more annoying than the very behavior they’re ranting against.

Not content to eliminate smoking from any and all public settings, now they have people’s private homes in their cross hairs. 

Anti-smoking activists in Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont are pushing legislation that would prohibit foster parents from smoking in their home.  Busy bodies in other states are  encouraging family court judges to ban parents from smoking in their own residence as a requirement of custody orders and visitation agreements.

You think smokers are rude?  Did you hear about the shocked Italian actor who had to stub out a cigarette after someone in the audience complained?  It was last month during a production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.”  Following the script, Mr. Lo Monoco lit a smoke only to hear a woman in the cheap seats bellow, “Put out that cigarette.”  Rather than escort her out of the theater, an unscheduled intermission was called, whereupon it was quickly decided to rewrite the actor’s character so he was a non-smoker.

Can you imagine Clint Eastwood not being allowed to chew a cigarillo in “The Good, Bad and Ugly?”  Or Humphrey Bogart prohibited from dangling a cigarette in “The Big Sleep?”  All because some do-gooders raised a fuss?

One anti-smoking group regularly publishes a list condemning actors and actresses smoking on screen.  The webpage even warns readers which movies to avoid because of scenes involving tobacco.  Get a life, guys.

The movie “Desperado” was on network television a couple weeks ago and surprisingly, all the violence and gore was left in.  People’s limbs being blown off.  A janitor mopping up pools of blood after a barroom shoot out.  But they eliminated the one scene where Selma Hayek briefly lights a cigarette.  Some things are just too extreme for prime time.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not defending smoking.  I don’t smoke and never have (other than a good cigar once in a blue moon).  For me, it was a great relief when bars and restaurants went smoke free.  My sister, mother and aunt all died well before their time on account of cigarettes.  Surely the world would be a better place without cigarettes.

And anti-tobacco groups are to be commended for their role as educators and helping to eliminate smoking in enclosed settings.

But when they start targeting people in their own homes and dictate what types of characters can be portrayed in movies, they’ve clearly lost all credibility.

Maybe they’ve just got too much free time on their hands.  Maybe they need a hobby.  

Perhaps they should start smoking or something.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

Prime Time Crime current headlines

Contributing Writers