1) You say you would like to see books with depictions of smoking or references to tobacco in children’s libraries to have warnings or a sticker attached, to make parents aware before they open the book. Isn’t that a form of censorship? Education and awareness is one thing and bans and censorship are another. I would like to see less people smoke, I would like to fewer children start. It will take one generation to not start – to turn their backs on tobacco and nicotine for there to be significant change. It is completely possible but not if we don’t do whatever we can to prevent children from thinking nicotine use has any benefits whatsoever.
I am not devoting my energies to telling people not to smoke or that we need to ban anything along those lines but rather that we need to protect children. I think of the situation where smoking has been banned for the good of non-smokers and it begs the question what happens to the person who smokes who is after all addicted. Here they are out in the rain, out in the streets and wanting to quit but stuck in this
relentless and costly pattern. I would much rather devote my time and efforts to helping people who are
ready to quit stop and find success and to helping children never get started than making things harder
on smokers than they already are. Why ban something when you can help people simply quit or effect chance so the problem goes away. Banning is a negative idea or direction. Let’s move in the positive.
I think smokers have been given a really rough time and knowing how many them wish they could quit I would like to see programs in place that help them do that. I find it fascinating that people would question making health choices in the name of liberty when the people being protected are being recruited to slavery to nicotine that 50% of the time will kill them We simply cannot underestimated the power
of the messaging of the nicotine industry over the past 50 years and the brain washing that has gone on in the world of persuasive messaging.
2) What are the goals for your organization, www.youcanstopsmokingnow.com and www.booksthat fit? And www.smokefreechildrensbooks.com? Goal of “You Can Stop Smoking Now” is to open up a new way of looking at quitting that is doable. I am very much in support of smokers being given a more compassionate and supportive voice. Since 1964 37 million people in the USA have quit smoking and 98 per cent of them did it unaided. I find that fascinating and encouraging. Books That Fit is specifically a
social media platform to open up a discussion about the best books out there that fit with the times and that reflect current and relevant issues in an effective and appropriate manner.
3) What exactly did you change, add or omit in your version of the public domain work, Twas The Night Before Christmas?
I consulted with Santa and made a few changes to preserve the poem going forward in this century. Santa asked that the verse regarding his smoking a pipe be eliminated and any illustration of that fact be removed. I also added a message from Santa and his wish to point out that he has never worn anything other than faux fur out of respect for his friends the arctic polar bear. It is all about awareness and being willing to show up and get involved. I would truly be upset to wake up one day to find that we did not have any polar bears left. I believe we each can make a difference. Rugs or polar bears is it a tough choice?
4) What can we do to make more parents, grandparents and teachers aware of the dangers of reading smoke-filled books to young, impressionable minds?
All over the world there are people working very hard to help solve the problems of youth smoking and we all contribute funding to research and studies on what we can do to change the situations for the better. There are many very reputable agencies that you can contact to learn more about the influence of characters depicting in books and movies.
There is a direct relationship between children’s exposure to on screen smoking and how many of them start to smoke.
Children and youth whose favorite actors have smoked in 3 or more of their recent films are 16 x more likely to feel positively about smoking, making them much more likely to start smoking themselves.
Children aged 10-14 who see the most smoking on screen are 3 times more likely to start smoking than children who see the least.
Exposure to on screen smoking is responsible for 44% of youth tobacco users. Smoking in movies increased from 1998-2005 and tobacco is still in half of all films rated PG13.
It concerns me that young women are exposed to images of models and actresses smoking. Kate Moss
is a popular icon and when she walked down a runway smoking I was concerned on what message was being sent out to young women my daughters age. Carine Roitfeld, the former editor of French Voque, included an apology in her recent book – “… forgive me for all these cigarettes I’ve put in all these issues.” This is the shift in thinking that is needed to bring about change.
5) The U.S. Surgeon General issued a statement this spring regarding youth smoking – the first such report in a dozen years. Is the government doing enough to deter our youth from taking up smoking?
The WHO recommended changes to film ratings to better protect children from the influence of film. It is my understanding is that only China has complied and has ratings that offer parents a warning to the content of smoking in a film. Other countries could do much more. Disney, Time Warner and Comcast have policies prohibiting smoking in youth-rated films. There is a campaign on now to get the other studios to follow.
6) You are involved in the University of California, San Francisco – Smoke Free Movies Campaign. How effective has it been to remove or reduce images of smoking in our movies?
I am only one of many collaborator and very much support their efforts to see the change of ratings to restrict the influence of nicotine through film. The Surgeon General’s March 8th. 2012 report was very clear on the harmful influence of characters smoking and the direct causal link has been made through scientific research to youth’s exposure to smoking in film and their initiation to nicotine. This 900 plus page report could do a lot of good in increasing public awareness of the issue and in turn could lead to support for the changes that need to be made to further protect children.
Rango was full of smoking and won an academy award. Avatar, in which a scientist in the future smokes, puts the question why a director can’t find a more creative use of time in a film than to use the cigarette to break a scene. Dr. Stanton Glantz leads the world in this charge to end the infection of children by nicotine through film and I hope he succeeds at convincing governments to change their film classifications to protect their young audiences. It makes good sense from a health prevention point of view and it would save a great deal in healthcare costs. People can get involved in these campaigns through www.smokefreemovies.com or smokefreemovies.ca. In 2011 through the efforts of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids changes were made on the baseball field to further protect children from the messaging of nicotine use. Through a letter writing campaign they were successful in banning the chewing of tobacco on the field by the players. It is my understanding that Commissioner Selig and Bobbie Valentine are supportive of the initiatives to clean up the field. I did have discussions with the Major Leagues Players Association to offer them smoking cessation for their members. You can ban it from the field but these players are still addicted and with 80% of people who smoke wishing they didn’t a good number of these athletes wish they could stop.