Smoking in Movies

Movies in the 1980’s appear to make smoking the cool thing to do. Almost every heroin or protagonist character smokes cigarettes. Let’s just look at a few:



We start with the original badass: Bruce Willis in Die Hard. He is portrayed as this awesome guy, he defeats everyone ends up winning his wife back. We are all supposed to like him, and he smokes almost constantly in the movie.



We have Veronica from Heathers. She is not your typical heroin, she does kill innocent people, but yet she is the protagonist we are supposed to like. And she smokes and it makes her look cool.



Ren from Footloose is only shown smoking once when he is angry and dancing in the warehouse. This makes the connection that smoking will help alleviate stress and make you more calm. We love Ren, he is our main character; he stands up for what he believes in and of course he smokes.



Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon is another genuine badass. He is literally registered as a lethal weapon because he is such an amazing fighter. He is our hero in this movie. He overcomes his depression and channels his anger towards locking up or killing bad guys. His picture could be in the dictionary next to chain smoker though.


Sandy from Grease (1978) is transformed into the kind of woman a man wants. She tries to impress Danny by putting on tight leather pants and a sexy little shirt AND she smokes! This is a direct connect between being cool and smoking.



In 1980 when Popeye the movie was released this brought smoking into an even younger generation! Popeye is never seen without his pipe.



Even advertisements in magazines showed models smoking. Which is hilariously contradictory for this particular ad considering it is for Chanel, which is famous for their fragrances.

Don’t forget the music industry. This song which was releases in 1985 also promotes smoking as the cool thing to do!

This article outlines the trends in smoking through time. It offers doesn’t offer a huge spike in tobacco use during the 1980s but it does show a tremendous decrease as we get closer to modern day. Perhaps this is due to advances in technology and medicine that has reaffirmed the dangers of smoking.

Either way as we continue though the movies of the 80’s the overwhelming trend of the popularity of smoking is becoming more and more apparent. You certainly don’t see many of the modern movie heroes smoking as often.