Who smokes in Hollywood? Characteristics of smokers in popular films from 1940 to 1989

Addict Behav. 1998 May-Jun;23(3):395-8. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(97)00071-3.


We examined how smokers were depicted in 100 popular films spanning 5 decades. Smokers were depicted as more romantically and sexually active than nonsmokers and as marginally more intelligent than nonsmokers. Smokers and nonsmokers did not differ in terms of attractiveness, goodness, socioeconomic status, aggression, friendliness, or outcome at film's end. Thus, if anything, smokers are depicted a bit more positively than nonsmokers. We compared Hollywood's depiction of smokers to real-world demographics on smoking and found that Hollywood's depiction of smoking tends to ignore the negative consequences and correlates (e.g., ill health, low socioeconomic status, aggressive behavior) of smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Deception
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Motion Pictures* / standards
  • Motion Pictures* / statistics & numerical data
  • Motion Pictures* / trends
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Smoking* / epidemiology
  • Smoking* / psychology
  • Social Desirability*
  • United States / epidemiology