Kicking Hollywood's Butts
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When it comes to Hollywood movies, kinky sex and bloody murders are standard fare. But to a growing segment of American viewers, an actor lighting up can spark a furor. For several years now, anti-nicotine advocates have pressured the major studios to leave smoking scenes on the cutting-room floor. Armed with hard data from a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience, tobacco abolitionists have launched their boldest-ever campaign to ban butts from movies and TV. Using MRI scans, scientists at Dartmouth have shown that the brains of viewers watching actors puff away dramatically increase their nicotine cravings. The CDC and Congress are also getting into the act. While total tobacco “impressions” in films have been falling fast the last few years -- to a low of 17 billion in 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times -- congressional bigwigs want show biz to “accept its own version of a nicotine patch,” in the words of Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). A radical wing of the anti-nicotine movement is even agitating to excise smoking scenes from historical movies through the miracle of digital airbrushing. Not surprisingly, movie purists are aghast. Let's face it, Renee Zellweger is one thing, but what would such legendary glamour turns as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's look like without Holly Golightly's cigarette (and elegant holder)?