Santa as an icon.

Posted by pamela mccoll on Monday, December 23, 2013
Tell All The Kids: Santa Has Quit Smoking
Toddler's Icons Shouldn't Be Promoting Deadly Habits

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 23, 2013): All young children should be alerted - by parents, grandparents, and by the media - that, despite what they may see or hear this holiday season, Santa Claus quit smoking years ago, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, the man credited with persuading Kris Kringle to give up this deadly habit and set a good example for millions of children and their parents.

Toddlers’ perceptions of Santa are very important and have a very long term influence, says Banzhaf, noting the outrage triggered by a recent billboard showing the jolly one puffing away on an e-cigarette, the major controversy over a news anchor's claim that Santa is white, or the great consternation which occurs whenever a mall Santa is seen by youngsters smoking on a break.

"Long before they can articulate it - or in some cases before they can even talk - children see an idol their parents lavish with praise, with a pipe in his mouth, and draw the obvious conclusion that smoking is OK," says Banzhaf, noting that the attitudes of millions of children towards smoking were influenced by candy cigarettes, and that pictures of voluptuous women affect the body images of even very young kids.

"That's why I'm working so hard to get Frosty the Snowman to give up his corncob pipe. Frosty says to tell the children they should never start, because it is so very difficult to quit," reports Banzhaf.

In 1996, Banzhaf wrote a letter to Santa, modeled on a similar letter sent to Jack Elrod, the creator of the cartoon character "Mark Trail." Just as that earlier letter persuaded Trail to promise his readers that he will never smoke again, Santa responded to Banzhaf, explaining that to protect his own health, as well as the health of Mrs. Claus and the elves, he like Mark had given up his pipe.

Santa also urged parents to follow his own example and quit for their own health, or at least not to smoke within a home where there are children.

Banzhaf has been called "Mr. AntiSmoking," "The Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials," "One of the Most Vocal and Effective Anti-Tobacco Attorneys," and "a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars." Yet, even by those who strongly oppose his antismoking activities, Banzhaf is credited with helping Santa to quit.

Apparently as a result of Banzhaf’s success with Santa, the classic Christmas poem, "A Visit From St. Nicholas," has been reedited by Santa Claus himself, to remove the words: "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath." The new book is called “Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century.“

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 @profbanzhaf

Tags: santa smoking  santa and e-cigarettes  santa vaporizing.