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Force of Habit "Presenting Bullock as an 'enlightened smoker' was another way of hitting home the differences between this odd couple, a bleeding-heart liberal and a Southern male chauvinist," Schumacher said. "What you have now is the setup with no payoff . . . had I known, I would never have had her smoke. Sandra's a role model and, as filmmakers, we have a responsibility. Even more so in child-oriented movies such as [Schumacher's] 'Batman Forever' where Tommy Lee Jones smoked up a storm. But, then, no one minds when villains smoke." Feature films are five times more likely to depict the habit than TV, the lung association study found. In the 230 TV episodes reviewed by the group, tobacco was used in 21% of the dramas and 12% of the sitcoms. Fox Television was the smokiest, with 73% of its series portraying the habit in at least one episode compared with 44% on NBC, 38% on ABC and 33% on CBS. In a study released in March, teenage reviewers overseen by a regional division of the lung association found that 77% of the 133 current movies analyzed portrayed tobacco use. Walt Disney Pictures was rated the best with an average of just six smoking incidents per movie, followed by 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. At the bottom were Miramax Films and Castle Rock Entertainment with 45 and 34, respectively. While only 3% of the American population smokes cigars, the product was depicted in over half of those movies with tobacco use. And only one-third of the movies reviewed displayed any kind of anti-smoking statement--from plot lines to "no smoking" signs. "Smoking is used to portray rebellion and 'cool,' " said study supervisor Trisha Gibson. "Our goal is to reduce the glamour aspect of cigarettes, to show the real harm they inflict. Among California teens, smoking has increased from 9% to 11% in the past three years." Television is more responsive because there are regulatory mechanisms in place, said Larry Deutchman, senior vice president of production and marketing at the Entertainment Industries Council--a Virginia-based nonprofit group that encourages responsible presentation of social issues. "At the networks, there's a Jiminy Cricket on the premises, a Standards and Practices Department with a philosophical statement about portraying smoking, which gives them the right to scribble a note in the margin of a script. And while the Federal Communications Commission can't oversee content, it does have some leverage in the form of license renewal." All four major television networks discourage the depiction of smoking. When considered necessary to the story line, the implications of the habit should be shown, they say. Recent depictions include detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) on ABC's "NYPD Blue," who gave up cigarettes for three seasons, only to pick one up again after his son was killed. On NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street," the detective played by Andre Braugher gave up cigarettes shortly after the actor did--only to suffer a stroke in the season finale. The stressed-out "ER" doctor played by Sherry Stringfield, meanwhile, is one of the few leads who continues to light up. Fox's "The X-Files" features an unnamed, ongoing character who smokes. But since he has been referred to as "The Cancer Man," it's a step in the right direction, the lung association says. Roland McFarland, vice president of Broadcast Standards for Fox, said the network regards cigarettes as a "harmful drug"--one it is careful not to popularize. "I'd like to know more about those portrayals cited by the lung association," he said. "There are contextual considerations. We wouldn't take smoking out of a prison yard or a war film but we do keep it in the background where prime-time programming is concerned. And since smoking was found in such a small percentage of shows to begin with, the numbers are less consequential." The children's cable channel Nickelodeon has a no-smoking policy for its original programming, but faces a dilemma when airing vintage shows, according to Diane Robina, a vice president of programming at the network. Though it's impossible to edit out all of the smoking imagery in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" or even "Looney Tunes," any "endorsement" of the habit is automatically snipped. In newly restored episodes of "I Love Lucy," the original opening--in which sponsor Philip Morris showed cartoon stick figures of Lucy and Desi smoking--was replaced with one of a heart first used on syndicated versions. In 1989, the film industry began to change course after Congress turned up memos documenting tobacco product placement deals--most notably, a $42,500 payment for 1980's "Superman II" and $350,000 for 1989's "Licence to Kill."

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