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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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L.A. billboard owners squash 'Land of the Lost' anti-smoking ads

We knew that the Will Ferrell-starring "Land of the Lost" was a humiliating failure that lost so much money this summer that it probably played a big role in getting Universal Pictures chiefs Marc Shmuger and David Linde fired a couple of weeks ago. We also knew -- because some of us are gluttons for punishment -- that the movie featured a host of shots featuring Ferrell smoking a pipe, which earned Universal a chorus of Bronx cheers from anti-smoking advocates. In fact, the American Medical Assn. Alliance (AMAA), which keeps track of family health issues, cited "Land of the Lost" when it named Universal as its biggest offender in the unnecessary depiction of smoking in mass-appeal summer movies.

Land-of-the-lost-poster-2 But what the New York Times' Brooks Barnes reveals online today is that L.A. billboard owners, already enormously unpopular for shamelessly installing an ever-growing assortment of hideous video billboards, refused to accept ads from the AMAA publicly calling out the studio for its on-screen promotion of smoking. The AMAA had previously announced that the studio "found to be the biggest smoking offender would be publicly shamed on nearby billboards." But when the AMAA went to buy billboard space, every local billboard vendor refused to sell.

According to the AMAA, the billboard vendors, who take in a huge amount of revenue from (surprise!) movie industry advertising, weren't going to let their favorite clients be embarrassed in such a public way from an anti-smoking organization. It's yet another black eye for L.A., which has allowed billboard pollution to run rampant without even putting up a fight.

But let me give the last word to AMAA President Nancy Kyler, who says: "It's a sad day when movie studios can promote smoking to youth, but public health advocates cannot find a billboard in the whole city of Los Angeles that will run an ad to alert the public about the problem." 

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Doesn't sound like much of a problem since no one really saw this bomb.

Oh, cry me a river! Every city in the area and every state in the nation is passing stricter and stricter ordinances against smoking to the point where smokers can't even smoke in their own homes, let alone near parks, in buildings, beaches, etc. Not to mention the fact that cloves and other flavored cigarettes have been banned entirely! So go fly a kite, anti-smoking advocates. Why don't you spend your time trying to get people to quit substances that actually hurt one's mind, instead of just body?

I have an idea. Go away. You're not wanted here. If people want to smoke they should smoke.

IF people want to smoke??

But they don't. Studies show MOST people don't want to be addicted to tobacco, but were hooked as kids.

I have an idea--look up the facts.

Like, BK, smoking's role in Alzeheimer's, anxiety and mental illness. The momentary relaxing power of smoking is the feeding of an addiciton. It all goes downhill from there, creating a need that must be filled 20 times a day, day after day, year after year, till it all catches up to you . . .

This is unbelievable. Anti-tobacco activists and organizations such as Stanton Glantz (with his SmokeFree Movies) and the AMAA -- who engage in the appalling practice of trying to censor artistic freedom and, more importantly, free speech through intimidation -- want to whine when they experience the same treatment!?! And the author of this piece props the prohibitionists up?!

Nonsense. In fact, it's a well-deserved taste of their own medicine.

It shouldn't matter what side of the smoking issue you're on. In addition to free speech, other fundamental principles are at stake here! In each instance, the accused offender (movie makers/studios and billboard owners) is invoking their private business rights to conduct their business in the manner THEY choose rather than abdicating it at the point of someone else's gun.

The billboard problem (proliferation) you speak of is something else entirely. Don't lean on this instance to take care of it.

Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)

Right, Nancy. This movie was a tremendous public health threat. Since the movie came out, dozens of children in our neighborhood have started smoking pipes.

Rather than whine and complain about their ads not being posted and what "a sad day it is," can't these people focus their efforts and their money elsewhere? Advertising agencies and Hollywood have bowed to their requests so easily in the past when it comes to the public portrayal of smoking... perhaps they were fooled into thinking that not only are they "doing some good" but also, "We're powerful enough to put Hollywood in our back pocket." Well, this proves otherwise. Yes, smoking is bad. Yes, there are programs out there to help you stop. As a society, we get that. We don't need to see any cheezy AMAA ads capitalizing on a bad film--at the very least, they couldn't choose a GOOD film?

The #1 argument the billboard owners have in their legal arsenal is freedom of speech. Seems that the freedom is theirs alone.

To all eye dee eye oh tee eye sea people posting here who think their smoking does not harm others...I will agree that you have the right to smoke when you do two things:

1. Make sure that when you smoke, I (and anyone else who chooses not to smoke) do not have to passively breath in your secondhand smoke. EVER! (This includes people who think that they have the right to smoke in their own house. Unless your house is hermetically sealed, forget it. I have two jerks who live down the street from me (two houses away) and when they smoke in their house, the prevailing winds blow it into my house and I end up breathing in their secondhand smoke.)

2. Guarantee me that you will not accept any of my money (via my health insurance premiums) or public money (which is funded through my taxes) to pay for treatment for ANY illness you get that is smoking related.

As soon as all smokers agree to do these two things, I will agree that they have a right to smoke.

Or, to put it another way...just as my right to extend my arm stops when it impacts and flattens your nose, your right to smoke stops just as soon as it impacts me.

Outdoor bans are even crazier than indoor bans. The chemical make-up of shs is nearly 94% water vapor and A SLIGHT AMOUNT OF CARBON DIOXIDE with about 3% being carbon monoxide AND 3% CONTAINING THOSE SUPPOSED KILLER CARCENOGENS.........

n-nitrosomines which you hear so much about is actually arsenic..what they dont tell you is that the measurements they took match the naturally occuring arsenic in the air outside everywhere.
they measured levels at 0-29 picograms....which is totally safe...the amount has to be 5 million times that to be harmful to see how they switched it. Trying to blame shs for what is actually a natural thing. The levels of other things in shs if they can be measured at all are millions if not billions of times smaller than the amounts needed to harm anyone......just remember this second hand smoke is a joke within nano seconds from the burn it turns into WATER VAPOR.....Even the exhaled smoke is loaded down with water vapor...osha has said nothing in shs/ets is going to harm you or anyone else.....what shs will do is irritate those with weak immune responces.......thats why shs is classified as a class 3 IRRITANT BY OSHA AND THE EPA.....Remember this a prohibition movement must rely on scare tactics and big money in order to succeed to the level of getting legislation....These outdoor regulations are even crazier than the first claims made for indoor bans.......

As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that: "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997


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