Thank You for Smoking is a 1994 novel written by Christopher Buckley and 2005 dark comedy film directed by Jason Reitman and starring Aaron Eckhart and William H. Macy.Eckhart's character, Nick Naylor, is a lobbyist for the big tobacco corporations, and his job is to defend them in the moral, economic and social arena of the United States. The film asks many questions about the morality of smoking versus free choice. The main plot of the film is Naylor's progression through different mindsets in the tobacco industry, particularly as he tries to appear as a good role model to his 10-year-old son. Although the film doesn't take a strong stance for or against smoking, it teaches us that "the great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese."It's worth noting that while the movie deals with smoking advertising in films, it never once shows a character actually smoking. Make of that what you will.
Thank you for smoking the following tropes:
Adaptation Distillation: The book and the movie are such substantially different animals that it's almost hard to believe anyone on the crew actually read the book (although the movie is still a worthy product in it's own right: Tropes Are Not Bad). Many elements of the plot have been reduced, rearranged or cut out entirely, which creates a completely different narrative. There are too many examples to list here, but the biggest example is the kidnapping. In the book, it takes place at the beginning and is hugely important to the plot, and is eventually revealed to be a plot by BR to get good publicity and get Nick out of the way, allowing Janette to take his place. In the movie, it takes place at the end and essentially adds nothing to the plot.
Adaptation Expansion: Although a lot of characters are reduced or removed entirely in the movie, Nick's son actually gets a lot more screen time and a full character arc in the movie.
Artistic License - Chemistry: If cigarettes were taken into space, they wouldn't "explode" just because they were in a 100% oxygen environment. They'd burn hotter and faster, sure, but that's a far cry from an explosion. What's more, manned space craft haven't used pure oxygen atmospheres since the early Apollo days, precisely because it would accelerate a fire, so the whole point is moot.
Bowdlerise: Parodied. After the events of the movie Senator Finistirre is still hard at work, attempting to censor cigarettes in old movies by covering them with bananas and other ludicrous objects.
Black Comedy: This is a comedy about people who make tons of money furiously justifying and defending the cigarette industry.
Blondes are Evil: Depending on one's perspective, this is played straight and inverted. Nick is a blond, while Heather the journalist manipulates him to further her agenda—she's a brunette.
Chekhov's Gunman: Late in the book (only), Gomez saves Nick's bacon and provides him with clues.
Chewbacca Defense: Most of Nick's arguments are more sophistry than substance, as he illustrates with Vanilla vs. Chocolate Ice Cream, and "We don't want Cancer Boy to die, we'd lose a valuable customer!"
With Vanilla vs. Chocolate, Nick alters the argument from "Which is better?" to "You're denying me the right to choose by saying chocolate's best!"
Creator Cameo: When Heather Holloway's article comes out in the film, the novel's author Christopher Buckley is seen reading it in a train station.
Demoted to Extra: Jeannette, who plays a vital role in the book, appears for a split second in the boardroom at the opening and has no dialogue. Reitman takes the time to point her out for fans of the book during the commentary.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Practically Nick's M.O. He tries to give the appearance of not wanting people to smoke but his job depends on it, and his idea to put smoking in movies hinges off it.
Eviler than Thou: Played for laughs. Nick comments that as alcohol and guns don't kill as many people as cigarettes, Polly and Bobby don't need to worry about being killed by vigilantes. They are both deeply offended by this until he apologizes.
Expy: In the book, the lead guy who kidnaps Nick resembles Peter Lorre to the extent that he is simply called "Peter Lorre" for the rest of the book.
Fun with Subtitles: BR refers to Finnistre as an environmentalist in a speech to his board. This word is subtitled as "Pussy" even if the subtitles are switched off.
George Lucas Altered Version: Invoked in-universe, where it is proposed that movies featuring smoking be "improved" by removing the cigarettes and replacing them with less offensive objects.
Nick: I'm just tickled by the idea of the gentleman from Vermont calling me a hypocrite, when the same man in one day held a press conference where he called for American tobacco fields to be slashed and burned, and then jumped on a private jet and flew out to a farmyard where he rode a tractor on-stage as he bemoaned the downfall of the American farmer.
Jerkass: Jill, Nick's ex-wife. She gets uppity when Nick tries to spend time with their son- she seems to think that, since he defends Big Tobacco, he's obviously going to tie their son down and force him to smoke at gunpoint. At one point she basically says to him "Why would he want to hang out with you when he could hang out with Brad?" (Joey's stepdad).
Karmic Death/Death by Irony: Inverted when some anti-tobacco activists kidnap Nick and try to overdose him on Nicotine Patches, it's his lifetime of smoking that gave him the resistance to fight it. It does become a Cool and Unusual Punishment though, as he can never smoke again on pain of death.
A second example in the book: BR had people killed through smoke inhalation "accidents", and is killed in the same manner by the same person.
Littlest Cancer Patient: "And where in the hell did you find Cancer Boy? ... When you're looking for a cancer kid, he should be hopeless! He should have a wheelchair, he should have trouble talking, he should have a little pet goldfish he carries around in a ziplock bag. Hopeless!"
Logical Fallacies: Many of the arguments concerning cigarettes are quickly deflected by Nick Naylor by subtly changing the subject. His debating partners, most of whom aren't really good at debating at all, rarely call him out on this. Naylor even admits to his son that he never has to prove that he's right, but only has to discredit his opponents somehow or twist their arguments so they look bad even if they are entirely correct. It's notable that Naylor seems perfectly aware that he's really only playing the masses and the viewers, and that it requires a certain moral flexibility on his part rather than actual facts.
Averted in the book with Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, and others.
No Smoking: As noted elsewhere on this page, despite the movie being about smoking, we never actually see anyone smoke.
Occidental Otaku: Jeff, the movie producer. He is apparently obsessed with Japanese culture to the point of heavily basing his entire building on a jazzed-up traditional Japanese design aesthetic, having a very well-stocked koi pond and constantly maintained indoor rock gardens, and wearing a very intricate kimono when he's alone.
Only in the film, where after his tours in Vietnam, "everyone who knows what it means are all dead". In the book, his real name, Budd Rohrenbacher, is mentioned once as an aside; people simply call him BR for simplicity rather than No Name Given.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The movie forgoes many of the book's subplots and the final series of plot twists, instead focusing on the rivalry between Naylor's relationship with his son and his rivalry with Senator Finistirre.
Really Gets Around: Nick in the book, to the point where Reitman apologised to Eckhart in the commentary for removing so many of those scenes.
Sympathetic P.O.V.: Nick Naylor's actions are at best amoral and sometimes indefensible (persuading the kid on the plane to smoke in the movie springs to mind), and what makes it so troubling is his charm still makes it difficult not to like him, let alone revile him in the way we may feel we should.
Title Drop: BR has a sign on his desk that says "Thank You For Smoking."