Is it unusual to portray characters smoking in modern times? - Page 5


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Thread: Is it unusual to portray characters smoking in modern times?

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Thanks for this. Not wishing to derail the post but I'm still unclear as to why there would be any prohibition on children smoking at all given the consensus was that it was a benign or even healthy habit.
    You might have to look into when those prohibitions happened relative to cancer research. There might not have been a ban on children buying tobacco products prior to the surgeon general warning everyone off cigarettes. Said prohibitions also might not have gone into effect everywhere at the same time.
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  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    You might have to look into when those prohibitions happened relative to cancer research. There might not have been a ban on children buying tobacco products prior to the surgeon general warning everyone off cigarettes. Said prohibitions also might not have gone into effect everywhere at the same time.
    I found a timeline with some interesting info here. Most states had smoking age restrictions by the turn of the 20th century, and, by 1939 all 48 states did (the first statistical link between smoking and cancer was published in 1929). What really blew me away was reading that in the 1950's states started to lower or eliminate minimum age limits. These efforts continued into the '60s. That's probably due to the influence of TV and big-tobacco.
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  3. #43
    Oh okay, so smoking isn't that unusual still, it's just we maybe don't see it in fiction as often cause writers want to be PC perhaps?

  4. #44
    I go to a coffee shop several times a week that sells pipes, cigars, and tobacco. When I worked in restaurants and as an EMT, not that long ago, lots of people smoked. Higher stress jobs like medical, manual labor, and cooking still have a lot of smoking. It also depends on what part of the country you are in, and what the income is like. A lot of writers live in places and with circumstances where people are highly educated and have little desire for the effects of smoking, so it isn't going to turn up in their writing as much.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay, so smoking isn't that unusual still, it's just we maybe don't see it in fiction as often cause writers want to be PC perhaps?
    It's not about being PC. While it's true smoking is less prevalent now pretty much across the board, John Calligan made a good point. Social and cultural norms within select groups are what makes the primary difference.

    My brother-in-law is a chef and I swear to God damn near every chef smokes - a lot of them do some fairly hard drugs too. An awful lot of nurses smoke, ironically. When I was in the legal biz smoking wasn't common (most lawyers are very image conscious and the smell of tobacco is perceived as being undesirable) but a lot of lawyers drink heavily, that's their outlet.

    Sailors and Army grunts traditionally smoked and drank a lot - though I'd imagine fewer do now because there's a lot more P.T than there used to be. Wall Street traders drink scotch after-hours and snort coke. Cops drink coffee and eat donuts. Rastafarians and Hippies smoke weed. EDM afficionados prefer MDMA and ecstasy. Millenials like to eat tide pods and send dick-pics. Middle-class white girls drink Starbucks Frappes. Somalis chew khat. Dads watching football drink Bud Lite. Old grandmas sip sherry. Arabs smoke hookah. Every group of people and every profession has its cliches, stereotypes, and cultural norms that include some vice or other, to varying degrees of prominence and real-life accuracy.

    So, depending on who your story is about and where and when it's set is going to dictate the prevalence of smoking more than PC culture or generalizing broadly. If there seems like there's less smoking now, it's probably because most modern literature tends to focus on groups and cultures where smoking is just not so much of a thing. I mean, how many stories are written about chefs? Not many. Hence, that groups penchant for cigarettes doesn't get represented. Same goes for nurses.

    And yet modern literature features a lot of cops - who tend not to smoke these days, at least on the job (there's rules about that now) - and a lot of elves and other fantasy creatures (who don't smoke much), a lot of space travelers (can't smoke on a spaceship) and a lot of yuppies who are too busy boning each other, working on their marketing careers and instagram accounts, and generally being materialistic to degrade themselves with such a dirty habit. So, naturally, there are fewer smokers in those stories. But that isn't necessarily going to be the case for all stories. Write a story set in a county jail about a bunch of low income hoodlums...and you'll likely be including smoking, among other things, a lot more.
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  6. #46
    My story features a bunch of outlaw 4-year olds. Most of them smoke about a pack a day.
    Her: (trying to be profound) If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
    Me: (Hungover and really not in the mood) The only tool I have is a screwdriver, so every problem looks like I can solve it by screwing.
    Her: ....

  7. #47
    My story features a bunch of outlaw 4-year olds. Most of them smoke about a pack a day.
    Was this inspired by Hawk Jones by any chance?
    Dead by Dawn!

  8. #48
    It would certainly be a little out of place in a modern setting, but it's certainly not contradictory with reality. Plenty of people still smoke to this day, so it's not unreasonable if you were to have one or maybe two characters smoke.

  9. #49
    Oh okay, the last movie I can think of that had lots of smoking from numerous characters was The Departed (2006), but has a lot changed since 2006?

  10. #50
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    Yes, I'd say it's unusual to portray characters smoking. They drink coffee in amounts that would have me augering through the ceiling, though.
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