Sizzle and Smoke

Corporations and creatives are still encouraging woman through product placement to smoke by using visually oppressive tools. Tapping into insecurities of body image and the aspirational qualities of independence and glamour. From the perennially edgy publications of French and Italian Vogue come editorial upon editorial of uber-chic females musing in a ‘post-coital’ gaze whilst puffing away. This–in the same way as the alcohol industry–is influenced by a complex web of corporate ownership leading to cross-pollination of industry promotion. This form of product placement is especially heinous as tobacco consumption by females is still very high as outlined by Samet and Yoon in Women and the Tobacco Epidemic—Challenges for the 21st Century.

Stylists and photographers add textual layers of artistic merit and on-trend seduction that is difficult to combat once the, especially young, viewer is entranced. A fascinating study conducted in Switzerland examined techniques and approaches on motivating young woman to veto smoking. The study Aging Images as a Motivational Trigger for Smoking Cessation in Young Women aged the images of the young woman participating in the study, as they smoked (love it!). The abstract outlines:

We concluded that aging images are a promising intervention for reaching young women and increasing their motivation to stop smoking.

Taking this data into consideration it becomes quite obvious how the antithesis happens in fashion editorial. Note: Fashion label advertisements don’t show smoking, it is the magazine editorial that perpetuates the behaviour. If aging images repulse young females from their habit and/or addiction then nubile, thin beauties are the equivalent of a ‘moth to the flame’.

This targeted form of product placement highlighting physical appearance issues permeates the movie industry. There are multitude examples of–obvious–smoking endorsement in movies but I wanted to focus on one in particular, Avatar. Interesting how the disconnected intellectual ends up being magnetically cool. I think the Dr’s character warrants a ‘light,’ yet it seems cinema, photographer and visual arts invariably slide done the artery of tempting tobacco.

As Mr. Cameron stated in the NY Times:

Ms. Weaver’s character, Grace Augustine… doesn’t care about her human body, only her avatar body, which again is a negative comment about people in our real world living too much in their avatars, meaning online and in video games.

True, true but its still charismatic Ms Weaver–from Aliens to Avatar–Cameron obviously adores sultry Sigourney with a cigi in hand.

PS. Notice how hard it is to find a still of the smoking scenes online? Count on 20th FOX!

Disclaimer: I adore fashion and I enjoyed Avatar

Samet JM, Yoon SY. Women and the Tobacco Epidemic—Challenges for the 21st Century. The World Health Organization; Washington, DC, USA: 2001.


About mlcgallery

Designer, communicator and curious commentator on the value and exploitation of colour to communicate thought, fears, agenda, boundedness, beauty and bounty.
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One Response to Sizzle and Smoke

  1. Miriam Cabello says:

    Brilliant analysis!

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