These images have been engraved in our medulla thanks to a bajillion dollars in advertising budgets by big tobacco for the past six decades. For all those years, smoking was made to look cool, care-free and almost bitchin’. That is, until multi-billion-dollar lawsuits forced them way out of business. You know, pity and such. Boo-hoo. Whatevs.
In fact, according to this story from NPR, tobacco companies have paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of the 25-year, $246 billion settlement in the past 15 years.
Many thought that was the death knell for the industry. Until some foreshadowing a few years back, which was found in a movie that — no joke — is an absolute must for all PR professionals to watch, “Thank You for Smoking.”
In this film, and the last scene of the linked trailer, is this dialogue between Rob Lowe (agent Jeff Megall) and the great Aaron Eckhart (smoking lobbyist):
Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they’re looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It’s the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn’t they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the… you know, whatever device.’
Whelp, beam me up, Scotty. The future is definitely here and big tobacco is so digging them — E-Cigarettes.
In a story with a great headline, The New York Times delves into this obvious cheering section to help bring smoking back to the forefront and coolness factor out into the open.