Smoking Is Not Cool

Luis: Okay, I just have one very important question: you got a smoke?
Leon: Got gum.

You think that Smoking Is Cool, don't you? That smoking will always automatically make you a badass?

Not necessarily. Plenty of characters are perfectly capable of being tough or cool without lighting up. In fact, to emphasize this point even further, characters will be made more unlikeable or unattractive by having them smoke. This can happen by them taunting the non-smoker into lighting up, because otherwise he's a "wimp". Or by blowing Second Face Smoke in his face. Or just by having an ugly, obese, badly dressed, lazy or otherwise degrading character light up a cigarette or a cigar. Or just out and out try to Scare 'em Straight, by having the smoker display all the negative symptoms of life-long smoking; respiratory problems, bad skin, yellowing teeth, and maybe even cancer, even if the person in question couldn't realistically have been a smoker for long enough for these problems to occur.

A bit Truth in Television since tobacco smoke really smells repulsive when you're a non-smoker. Also, smoke coming out of someone's mouth can really account as a Gross-Up Close-Up when you really look at it.

See also Do Not Do This Cool Thing and Good Smoking, Evil Smoking.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • FLCL: Samejima Mamimi is the only character in the show who smokes, but it's not seen as a positive thing by the other characters and Mamimi herself is a little too damaged to carry off the look. Additionally, whenever she starts chain-smoking, it's usually a sign that her mental state is on a downward curve.
  • Naru Taru:
    • Shiina's estranged and emotionally abusive mother Misono is a smoker.
    • Shiina takes up smoking after she and Mamiko go Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and pretty much destroy humanity together. When Mamiko finds out, she scolds Shiina since the two of them are pregnant and the toxins could hurt Shiina's baby.
  • Kimagure Orange Road has Kyousuke getting very angry at Madoka when he sees her smoking. She slaps him in return.
  • Oniisama e...: Rei Asaka AKA "Hana no Saint-Juste". She does smoke on a regular basis, but her smoking is not portrayed as cool, as it is a sign of her Broken Bird personality and her self-destructive behaviour to show how really messed up she is.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Smoking big, smelly cigars is one of the most annoying habits of J. Jonah Jameson, Peter's Mean Boss at the Daily Bugle. Employees often call him "Chimney Lungs" behind his back, and often wonder if the habit contributes to his Hair-Trigger Temper.
    • Peter's former wife Mary Jane Watson smoked as a teenager to "look cool" and quit later, but when Carnage first appeared, she started smoking out of stress, which only got worse when Peter's long-thought-dead parents showed up. After several arcs where she tried to "cope" using them, Peter used some "shock therapy" taking her to visit his one-time foil Nick Katzenberg, who was in the hospital with terminal lung cancer. (Having lost weight to the point of being gaunt, lost most of his hair due to chemo, coughing up blood — very typical of a cancer patient.) It was enough for her to quit cold-turkey.
  • Wolverine could well have been the poster boy for the opposite Trope most of his career, rarely seen without a cigarette or occasionally a cigar; his mutant Healing Factor let him smoke without it hurting him. However, in one '80s story arc, he lost the healing factor for a short time, and trying to light up almost made him sick. It was enough to to convince him to quit.
  • Idées Noires: One gag has people scolding a smoker about the dangers of his habit. He eventually gets so scared of what they tell them him that he finally commits suicide. The others' comment: "Another victim of tobacco."
  • De Kiekeboes: In De come-back van Dédé ("The comeback of Dédé") the vicious criminal Dédé La Canaille escapes with the aid of his chain smoking friend Jim Menace who has developed a smokers' cough that causes him to cough all throughout the album. The police are eventually able to trace Dédé and Jim because they discover his cigarette butss lying around.
  • Back in the 80s, Marvel produced a Very Special Episode team-up comic of Spider-Man, Luke Cage (who was still going by Power Man at the time), and Storm where they had to confront a supervillain called Smokescreen who's Evil Plan was to hook a track star on cigarettes so that he could make money betting against the kid when all that smoking started affecting his performance. Smokescreen had the power to generate clouds of cigarette smoke that he could blow at people and make them choke, allowing him to somehow overcome Storm. And then after he was defeated, Spider-Man delivered an Anvilicious talk about how awful smoking is and how you should never, ever do it to the reader. This was when Wolverine, Ben Grimm, Nick Fury, and other heroes were still shown smoking in almost every appearance.

    Fan Works 

  • Meet the Feebles: The rat character is seen smoking a cigarette at times.
  • Flodder: Mum Flodder is a middle-aged, obese, grouchy woman who smokes cigars.
  • Muriel's Wedding: One of Muriel's sisters is an obese cigarette-smoking couch potato who often scolds her.

    Live Action TV 
  • Sister, Sister: One episode had a girl taunting one of the twins because she didn't smoke, but near the end of the episode the bully eventually got her comeuppance.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Onslow's couch potato appearance is made even more degrading by the fact that he drinks and smokes in front of the TV.
  • The Royle Family: The entire family looks downright disgusting, not least because some of them are seen smoking.
  • Absolutely Fabulous: Patsy and Edna are two middle-aged cynical women who still try to look young and are both heavy smokers.
  • In an early episode of The Nanny (second episode, in fact), Brighton complained about how he wasn't popular in school, and Fran told him about a kid she used to know who tried smoking to do that. Unfortunately, Brighton got the wrong message, and tried to one-up that guy by doing it himself (not Fran's intention at all; she probably shouldn't have mentioned how "cool" that guy was). At the end of the episode, Fran Scared 'im Straight by taking him to the retirement home of her grandmother Yetta, an addicted smoker who was clearly showing the adverse effects of doing it her entire life. (And to drive the point home, Yetta was all-too-willing to show him a few of the other residents who were even worse off, which thankfully, happened off screen.) It worked like a charm.

  • "Pimper's Paradise" from Bob Marley's Uprising
    She loves to smoke, sometimes shifting coke
    She be laughing when there ain't no joke
    A pimper's paradise... that's all she was now
    • Given that second line, it might not have been tobacco she was smoking.
  • The music video of Eminem's "My Name Is" had two low-life partners watching television when Eminem first appears on TV. The man is an obese couch potato, while his equally unattractive female partner has messy hair and smokes a cigarette. In one Gross-Up Close-Up, she's even seen blowing smoke at the camera.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Pearls Before Swine: Stephen Pastis is a non-smoker in real life but his Author Avatar in the comic is a heavy smoker in order to, in Pastis' words, make him look more like a "degenerate loser".
  • Calvin once asked his mom if he could try smoking. Much to his surprise, she agreed to it without argument and even told him where to find some cigarettes around the house. Naturally, when Calvin lights up outside and tries taking a nice big pull on it, he finds himself choking and coughing up the smoke. His mom then steps out and asks if he learned his lesson. Calvin takes away that trusting his parents can be hazardous to his health.

    Video Games 
  • Dante of Devil May Cry was explicitly designed with this in mind, Word of God declaring that he's "too cool to smoke." His Continuity Reboot counterpart in Dm C Devil May Cry was initially shown smoking in the first trailer, but again, Word of God states that he did smoke before, but has kicked the habit.
  • Metal Gear: Solid Snake and Naked Snake/Big Boss will inevitably get criticized by at least one member of their supporting teams for their smoking habit. Averted in Peace Walker, where just about every member of Big Boss' MSF smokes or otherwise uses tobacco.
    • Most of the series relies on Do Not Do This Cool Thing to get this trope across, but MGS4 plays this painfully straight as Old Snake keeps losing his cigarettes or getting them confiscated and, at one point, is coughing away with a oxygen mask and still asks for a smoke. It's a powerful moment when he decides to give it up after learning he no longer has to fight.
  • Resident Evil: Leon Kennedy takes measures to follow this. In Resident Evil 4, he turns down a smoke when offered, and, as shown in the page quote, offers Luis Sera gum when he asks for a smoke.
    • Zigzagged with Chris; he smokes in the uncut intro of the first game, no mention is made of it for years afterwards, but circumstance leads to him chain smoking in 6. Piers is quick to call him out on it.
  • Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge: There's a Joke Item in the first level, a pack of cigarettes, which if you try to use them will kill you.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: Ana is dying of terminal lung cancer, and even this doesn't stop her from smoking cigarettes.

    Western Animation 
  • Pinocchio: Lampwick, who is already being portrayed as a cocksure idiot, taunts Pinocchio for not smoking properly. In an example of Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped and Scare 'em Straight, he then literally transforms into a donkey. Pinocchio immediately throws his cigar away.
  • 101 Dalmatians: Cruella DeVil, an incredibly thin and unsympathetic fur enthusiast, is shown smoking from a cigarette holder.
  • The Simpsons
    • Patty and Selma, who're already very ugly and downright unpleasant company, smoke heavily. In fact, a flashback in one episode suggested they used to be nicer and their voices were far more feminine until they took up smoking.
    • Krusty the Clown, an egotistical and careless entertainer, is so addicted to tobacco that even being covered in nicotine patches doesn't prevent him from licking a patch on his elbow.
  • Probably the only unattractive thing about Dr. Girlfriend on The Venture Bros. is her masculine, gravely voice. After a few seasons (and a lot of bad jokes) it was revealed to be the result of chain smoking.
  • Bravestarr rams this message down your throat. Tex Hex had a toadying lickspittle named Scuzz, a who smokes cigars, and is always coughing and hacking up a storm. Even the other villains despise him.
  • As early as 1938 (when most of the world would reject this Trope) Porky Pig starred in a Looney Tunes commercial called Wholly Smoke that emphasized the dangers of smoking and made the habit look about as "cool" as self-mutilation.
  • Family Guy: The entire plot of the episode "Secondhand Smoke" revolves around this. Peter takes up smoking to have an excuse to quit working, and quickly becomes addicted; the episode does not pull any punches on how much havoc Peter's wreaking on his body and health by doing so. Eventually the episode ends with Peter wondering how things will turn back normal for him. Lois tells him the effects of smoking can't be overturned. Peter just asks for a cutaway gag, but when it returns to him he is still in the same worse shape, causing him to say: "Oh, crap!". Cue the end credits.

    Real Life 
  • Most smokers really start looking uglier as they get older. Apart from their veins turning their skin pale many develop an annoying smokers' cough. And the perpetual, choking stench.
  • Actress Helena Bonham-Carter often plays roles where she looks pale, dresses badly and smokes a cigarette to touch it all off.
  • Belgian politician and criminal Jean-Pierre Van Rossem is an obese, long-haired, bearded man who chain smokes all the time and routinely insulted everybody in his vicinity.
  • Aggressively promoted by the US Department of Defense, as well as many other militaries. While smoking used to be accepted and even commonplace among military personnel, the associated health care costs as well as the impact it has on the mission when chronic smokers cannot physically keep up or have to take frequent smoke breaks mandated an extremely negative view of smoking by military leadership. Cadets at military academies are not allowed to smoke, smoking is forbidden in basic training (which means anyone joining the military has to go cold turkey or risk being held back in training if they are caught smoking), smoking cessation classes are mandatory, and being seen as a smoker will be noted when it comes time for your annual evaluation, although raters are smart enough to find some other reason to downgrade you. Smoking is almost completely non-existent among officers, as they can't lecture against smoking if they smoke themselves. If you're an officer, and a general or an admiral sees you smoking around the enlisted personnel, may Almighty God bestow His infinite mercy upon your miserable soul...
  • Belgian author Herman Brusselmans has long hair, a nihilistic approach to life and a chain-smoking habit.
  • Amy Winehouse: As her drug addictions took a turn for the worse her personal appearance became shabbier, further emphasized by often being photographed with a cigarette between her lips.
  • The Rolling Stones: Keith Richards also falls into this trope as he grows older.
  • Dutch film director and assassination victim Theo Van Gogh was also an obese chain smoker who liked to shock and offend people for the sake of doing so.
  • One list of advice for young people says that if you think Smoking Is Cool, you should imagine yourself as a 12 year old kid with a cigarette butt in your mouth, because that's how it makes you look.
  • This 1972 promo from the American Cancer Society.
  • Konstantin Chernenko, Soviet politician and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, started smoking at age nine and did so until the end of his life, despite the heavy toll it took on his health. He spent his last months of life in and out of hospitals, in a wheelchair, and ultimately died at age 73 of a nasty combo of emphysema, heart damage and liver cirrhosis.