Tobacco Taboo Entices Youth

Published March 22, 2007

Dear Editor:

Your recent article about the movie industry being importuned to mandate “R” ratings for movies showing tobacco smoking was fascinating but incomplete. America is popularizing youth tobacco use, unwittingly, by promoting second-smoke hysteria and smoker prohibition.

Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, with “cancer sticks” hanging from their mouths, represented a culture that celebrated independence and individual freedom. Children of the late 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s were exposed to smoking as a legal habit enjoyed by an America that had defeated Nazi fascism symbolized in many ways by tobacco intolerance.

Our cultural war on tobacco is likely to inspire today’s children to again mirror that image because it appeals to cultural modes that beckon youth to experience freedom from authority.

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager for The Heartland Institute.