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"I'm so sorry to trouble you — but tobacco is the one drug every doctor forbids his patients and prescribes for himself."
Dr. Wells, The Bat

In contemporary North America, about 14% of the population smokes tobacco. The number is small enough and the practice has been stigmatized enough since the 1950's-1960's (since the science about health effects of smoking, and the dangers of being just in the vicinity of smokers with second-hand smoking, became widely known) that younger generations are accustomed to designated smoking areas and smoke-free public buildings. Smoking indoors in public buildings has been illegal throughout the entire U.K. since 2007, and smoking rates dropped dramatically as a result of this smoking ban. Tobacco use rates continue to fall as older smokers die off without as many younger consumers lighting up for the first time to take their place, while increasing numbers of those remaining tobacco smokers are ditching the cigarettes and taking up nicotine vaping instead.

However. If you're in a period piece, or a retro-future, or a pulp cyberpunk future, a crime-noir piece, or even an outdated 20 Minutes into the Future from a past decade, you might have to put up with the fact that everybody smokes—especially men (it was uncommon for women to smoke until the 1920s when "masculine" behavior became more acceptable). If the setting dates to before the 1970s, ashtrays are going to be everywhere and there will be no such thing as a "non-smoking section" of a restaurant. If it's before the 1960s, smoking might even be seen as healthy and virile. During the period of peak tobacco use in America (late 50s-early 60s), more than 40% of the population smoked with some regularity.

Note that the extent to which smoking has been stigmatized varies from country to country, so this trope may still apply in modern media depending on country of origin. Eastern Europe and East Asia in particular have high contemporary smoking rates.

Smoking is still comparatively commonplace in Japan, and so it is also quite common in anime. Having a character smoke (who is old enough to do so legally, obviously) says very little about them as a character, and background characters are fairly often seen with cigarettes as well. It's worth noting however that overall smoking rates in Japan have fallen sharply in the last ten years (after regulators started cracking down on it as public health issue), so depictions of smoking are also slowly changing. Men have always had much higher smoking rates than women in Japan, so a female anime character's smoking habits are more likely to be significant than a male character's.

Compare Random Smoking Scene, where there's no real plot-relevant reason for the character to smoke. Contrast No Smoking, for when smoking is censored.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano!, but seeing as it's primarily set in 1930s America, this should come as no surprise...
  • Black Lagoon is a prime example of this, having most characters smoke at least once during the series. Rotton the Wizard is one of the non-smokers in the series. Being the smartest man in Roanapur in many ways, he'll probably live the longest. "Torch" Weaver also doesn't smoke, due to it being forbidden by his religion (he's implied to be a Mormon).
  • Cowboy Bebop: In the future, everyone smokes IN SPACE. They're usually told that there's no smoking immediately after lighting up, however.
  • Golgo 13 has always been a smoker. In the 1983 movie The Professional: Golgo 13, his brand is shown to be Parliaments. However, in the 2008-09 series, Duke Togo is never seen to light up.
  • Initial D: Has a lot of smokers, but the most notable one certainly has to be Takumi's father, Bunta Fujiwara, who can be seen smoking or lighting one up in practically every scene he is in. He's even done it in the middle of a drift! And Bunta is probably the only one that never smoked less (or stopped smoking) for the entire duration of the series.
  • Lupin III.
    • With the exception of Goemon, everyone else smokes either on a regular basis (Lupin, Jigen) or occasionally (Zenigata, Fujiko), with the author even specifying their brands.note  That characters light up becomes a plot point at times. In one particular sequence from the manga, Zenigata realizes Lupin is nearby because he sees that a spent cigarette is a Gitanes Caporal, an expensive import brand that only Lupin is known to smoke in Japan.
    • Goemon is sometimes shown smoking a pipe, like in his debut chapter of the manga.
    • Jigen's cigarettes are always bent out of shape (usually because it happens naturally with Pall Mall superlong filters when the package is treated too harshly, but he's been seen bending a straight cigarette before lighting it), to the point that in Italy bent cigarettes are known as "Jigen-style cigarettes".
  • The Kildred from The Sky Crawlers all smoke, despite of the fact that they're all kids. Or maybe because of it, as they do not age and they keep "dying" and returning with new memories, so they don't really need to worry about something like lung cancer.
  • In ...Virgin Love and its related stories all the businessmen smoke, likely due to stress. It seems to be how they get through the workday as no one smokes when they're feeling good.
  • In The Wind Rises, quite a few characters are seen smoking. Somewhat egregious considering the real Jiro Horikoshi was a non-smoker (director Hayao Miyazaki, however, smokes like a chimney)
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • In the manga, Yusuke smokes, apparently as part of his juvenile delinquent persona.
    • Cool Old Lady Genkai smokes, in the manga and anime; she's a crotchety but tough old bird, and it's a bad idea to cross her.
    • Kuwabara's older sister Shizuru smokes. She's tends toward completely deadpan, and once puts out her cigarette on a demon's tongue.
    • Bad guy Sakyo is almost never seen without a cigarette in hand, but rarely seen actually smoking it.

    Comic Books 
  • Smoking was very common in Marvel Comics for decades, until the early 90s when it was phased out. For example, it was common to see The Thing, Wolverine, Beast, and Wonder Man sitting together in the Baxter Building smoking while playing cards.
  • Sin City characters tend to smoke as per the series' Film Noir roots.
  • In the Tintin series, pretty much everyone smokes save the title character and a couple of his close companions.
  • In Transmetropolitan, even Spider's cat smokes. Justified in that cancer cures come in pill form. Spider's assistants initially didn't smoke, but he made them start immediately after they were hired.
  • In Watchmen smoking is shown to be ubiquitous, but to highlight how different the world in the story is, most smoke from a contraption that looks like a long cigarette holder with a spherical bowl at the end, that the smoker fills with loose tobacco. Averted with the protagonists, the only smokers among them being the Comedian and the second Silk Spectre. This is even a sort of Chekhov's Gun. Turns out she is his daughter.

    Fan Works 
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the protagonist Estermann does, while Lyra, trying to emulate him and humanity in general, is convinced that this trope applies. She tries taking it up as well, but, after caughing her lungs out, quickly decides it's not for her after all.
  • In the Psychonauts oneshot Setting Up Soup Kitchens Raz is surprised to see Crystal smoking. He mentions that it seems like all Psychonauts smoke.
  • Rocketship Voyager is a Star Trek: Voyager fanfic written In the Style of a 1950's sci-fi pulp. When they first meet Captain Janeway offers Chakotay coffee, but he prefers a cigarette as Voyager's air-renovators are better than those of the asteroid mines. Janeway hands him a packet which not only holds cigarettes, it also has a tiny fan inside to draw oxygen across a lit cigarette so it won't be smothered by its own smoke in zero-gravity, and an asbestos catch-pocket so the ashes won't float around the room and get in people's eyes.
  • In Spirits of the Blitz, the demon Crowley is shown smoking during the Second World War, presumably to fit in. He also subtly disturbs his handler by stowing the cigarette behind his ear without putting it out.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Most movies made before 1970. Product Placement meant that smoking was actually more ubiquitous in films and TV series pre-1970 than in reality. Film and TV actors have always notoriously high rates of smoking.
    Ira Stephen Behr: You see smoking in fifties movies all the time, from war movies to bug-eyed monster films, but [Lost] Continent took it to an art form that is just jaw-dropping to watch. Every time there is a problem, everyone just starts handing out cigarettes."
  • Alien: The crew smokes in their spaceship. This is close to Truth in Television, as even the US Navy allowed smoking in submarines until 2011.
  • Most Vietnam war movies, like Apocalypse Now, and especially Platoon.
  • Pretty much every single flight controller in Apollo 13. This is much like real life, apparently, especially in the Mission Control of the 60s and 70s.
  • Bad Timing: There is not one single scene where someone isn't seen smoking, lighting, or stubbing out a cigarette. All three actions often appear within the same scenes. A case of Everybody Chain Smokes.
  • Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes, of course.
  • The Criminal is a 1960 film about working class British criminals, with half the action taking place in prison, so almost everyone smokes. The opening scene is of three convicts playing poker for cigarettes.
  • In Dark Victory (1939), Bette Davis smokes in her hospital bed, while awaiting surgery for brain cancer.
  • Elvis (2022): As the majority of the film is set is set during a time when smoking was much more socially acceptable, various characters are seen lighting up at one point or another in the film. Colonel Parker is even depicted as smoking a cigar in his hospital room, an act that certainly would not be permitted now.
  • The Exorcist: A number of the adults in the film smoke, including Chris MacNeil and Father Karras. Ash trays are lot more prevalent, with the conference room at the Archdiocesan headquarters featuring a whole series of ash trays on the conference table.
  • Four Daughters (1938) does even better than that. Mickey (John Garfield) is in the hospital, dying of injuries suffered in a car accident. His distraught wife Ann offers him a cigarette. And the doctor lets her. Mickey croaks at the exact instant that Ann is getting the cigarette lit.
  • Frieda: Purely as an artifact of when the was made and is set—the last year of WWII and the immediate post-war period—almost every adult character smokes. However, it can be a little jarring for modern viewers to see people smoking in an already smoke-filled cinema with children present.
  • Gattaca, in the retro future variant.
  • Ghostbusters (1984). In the commentary for the film, Ivan Reitman said that he had watched both Ghostbusters I and II back-to-back to jog some memories and was astounded that almost no one lit up in the second one.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck. features most characters chain smoking throughout the film, while at their jobs in all aspects of the 1950s broadcast industry.
  • In The Hairy Bird, even though smoking is said to be prohibited on school grounds, it's shown that even the headmistress, Miss McVane, smokes.
  • All the teen characters in Heathers, especially Veronica and JD, are constantly smoking.
  • In 19th century France (as portrayed in Loving Vincent), everyone smokes. Armand, the Gachets, and others all smoke cigarettes. Vincent and Theo van Gogh smoke pipes.
  • Nowhere Boy. Seems that every other scene pretty much every character has a ciggy hanging from their mouth.
  • Everyone in Reality Bites. But ironically, of course, like little hipster chimneys.
  • Ian McKellen's 1995 film adaptation of Richard III updates the setting to a quasi-fascist alternate 1930s Britain, and all of the characters smoke accordingly. Richard himself prefers Abdulla herbal cigarettes, and even though they were no longer being made in 1995, the production crew was able to track down the six remaining packets and buy one for the movie.
  • On the distant mining planet of Screamers, anti-radiation medication is delivered via red-colored cigarettes. When radiation levels get too high, an announcement instructs all personnel to smoke their "radiation reds" This is lampshaded at one point, with a character commenting on how ironic it is that he has to smoke a cigarette to keep harmful toxins out of his lungs.
  • All of the main characters in Smoke, of course.
  • Stand by Me: All the main characters smoke, including the generally wholesome POV character. They're twelve. This is actually Truth in Television for the time period.
  • No one is seen smoking in Thank You for Smoking, even though smoking is what the entire movie is about. The trope is referenced when discussing a possible space movie that would try to make smoking appealing:
    Nick: But wouldn't [the cigarettes] blow up in an all-oxygen atmosphere?
    Jeff: ... Probably. But, you know, it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue: "Thank god we invented the, you know, whatever device."
  • In one scene in Them! you can barely see the characters for all the cigarette smoke in the room.
  • They Shall Not Grow Old features archive footage of World War One British soldiers, almost all of whom are seen smoking during their downtime. One sequence focuses on how much stock the soldiers put in finding quality cigarettes.
  • In Israeli film Ushpizin all the main characters smoke. Truth in Television as many Israelis are smokers.
  • In Videodrome there is rarely a scene, in the first half of the movie in particular, where the main character isn't lighting/smoking or putting out a cigarette. Several other characters are seen to smoke quite regularly throughout the film, but the lead is the most notable. His assistant even lights one up before he gets to the office, and gives it to him- along with a cup of coffee- straight from her mouth, before he goes into a meeting.
  • The Wages of Fear starts with the expected amount of smoking for a black-and-white movie set in a rough town. It becomes ridiculous when the characters keep smoking next to a truck full of nitroglycerin, with a sign that says "No flame within 50 feet." One character even smokes while covered in oil.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, set in an alternate 1947, Eddie apparently bummed some smokes off a bunch of kids on the Red Line trolley, although we don't see the boys smoking on-screen.



  • Isaac Asimov: Most of his tales have characters smoking during social occasions, despite Dr Asimov himself loathing tobacco use. While his Science Fiction quickly took advantage of the change as Real Life public opinion turned against smoking, his Mystery Fiction often persisted in the use of tobacco in private rooms.
    • The Foundation Trilogy: Written in the late 1940s to early 1950s, the social assumptions of smoking in these stories all lean towards sharing tobacco in social situations. Hari Sheldon comes from a family of hydroponic tobacco farmers, Salvor Hardin reflexively tries to take out a cigarette when a recording suggests it, and Indbur III is dictator of the most powerful state in the galaxy but mocked for not allowing smoking in his private office. Later, a village elder on the now agrarian Trantor offers Foundation guests some cigars, and it's a sign of the gender equality there that Bayta takes one along with the guys. The elder is shocked, but keeps silent due to Sacred Hospitality.
    • The End of Eternity: Published in 1955 and taking place in the far future (sort of), Twissel complains about how the vast majority of the centuries in the future have non-tobacco-smoking cultures, making it difficult to find a good cigarette and a place where smoking is allowed.
    • The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr: Lucky and Bigman, the heroes of this 1950s children's series, always decline when other people offer a cigarette. Smoking, however, is still more prevalent in this setting than it is today.
    • "Go, Little Book!": Published in 1972, it was still common for restaurants to have matchbooks and ashtrays on every table, which facilitates matchbook collectors.
    • "Not Final!": Because this was published in 1941, two of the main characters begin smoking in an artificial environment, in the private office of a third character that they're waiting for. The ubiquitous expectation of smoking means the problems of eliminating second-hand smoke residue on Ganymede isn't addressed.
    • The Robots of Dawn: A 1983 sequel to 1957's The Naked Sun. The protagonist, Elijah Baley, has quit smoking as an example to live a more healthy life for his son.
  • Most Golden Age mystery novels feature heroic smoking on the part of some characters, but the Ngaio Marsh Inspector Alleyn novels are in a league of their own. The only people not shown constantly smoking are the unsympathetic characters, and the general attitude to smoking is that it's a positive character trait.
  • Agatha Christie, oh so much. To the point where characters don't look down on other characters for not smoking...they look down on them for smoking different types of cigarette.
  • H. Beam Piper:
    • In pretty much every HBP story, people smoke. And most everyone stops for cocktail hour.
    • In the Fuzzies trilogy smoking is common. These were written before the act became stigmatized, and it ended up ensuring we got a plot point, but no lampshades are hung.
    • This is particularly notable in Omnilingual, where the characters are excavating ancient Martian ruins ... in individually pressurised buildings.

Individual works

  • Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon subverts this trope. The genre is sci-fi detective noir where the main character is living in someone else's body. Although fulfilling many noir tropes, the main character is agitated to discover the body he is wearing is addicted to smoking. He spends most of the novel battling his addiction to cigarettes and only rarely embracing it.
  • Seems you can't go anywhere in the world of Atlas Shrugged without finding some chain-smoking rich industrialists. The mystery behind a symbol on a cigarette box is even part of the plot. It's only the 'good' industrialists who succeed on talent who smoke, though — the 'bad' ones, who live off government favours and crony capitalism, do not. Ayn Rand considered "fire at your fingertips" a positive symbol. (She later developed lung cancer.)
  • In Casino Royale, James Bond ends chapter one by lighting up his seventieth cigarette of the day.
  • The Charlie Chan books and films have this as well, and again cigarettes and cigars can be part of the clues.
  • Subverted in City of Devils and its sequel whose hero has a complete inability to light a cigarette without disaster.
  • Darkness Visible is fantasy, but it is set in 1895, so naturally this trope applies. Notably, the fact that Marsh has such a major smoking habit does double duty as a plot point and a clue to his sexual orientation.
  • The Day of the Triffids the main character dedicates a paragraph or two of narration to lighting up every two to three pages until about two-thirds of the way through the book, when the general lack of supplies means he probably ran out.
  • Fitz Kreiner, from the Eighth Doctor Adventures, is from the 1960s. Naturally, he smokes. Also quite naturally, the Doctor and Fitz's more modern fellow companions hassle him about it, especially Sam. He falls Off the Wagon every time he quits, although in one book, he has Blood from the Mouth for no particular reason.
  • In Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, heroine Harriet Vane offers a cigarette to cheer up a miserably drunk college girl who has sneaked into the dorm after curfew.
  • In the 20 Minutes into the Future novel Ghost From The Grand Banks, one of the characters makes a living out of retroactively subverting this trope: his company digitally edits vintage films and TV programs, erasing any evidence of smoking from scenes, so they'll be marketable to post-tobacco audiences.
  • In the novels featuring the Russian Investigator Arkady Renko, beginning with Gorky Park, Renko laments that an enemy could just drop cigarettes on the U.S.S.R. rather then bombs to kill everyone off. Everyone drinks, too. This is probably Truth in Television.
  • Interesting variation in Tom Clancy's novels, particularly the Jack Ryan series. Many of the characters, including the titular protagonist, don't normally smoke, but they start lighting up their cigarettes after the tension levels ratchet upward.
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club: Due to this being the 1950s, most adult characters and some teenagers too are described as smoking.
  • Interesting use in Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis- not only is this trope in play, but even the book's maddeningly prudish, hysterically posturing 'feminine' character smokes as much as the hero. A little period knowledge explains why the hero is always fretting about how many cigarettes he has left to last the week- cigarettes were still rationed in Britain in 1951, as the import and manufacturing base recovered from WW2. It underlines the way that they're considered one of life's minor essentials in the period.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's 1941 serial/1958 novel Methuselah's Children is full of characters who smoke constantly. To make it worse, many of them are over a hundred years old. They're not some kind of immortals, protected from cancer, they're just naturally long-lived thanks to a long-running eugenics project. This was Ret Conned a few decades later in The Number of the Beast, where a character explains to visitors that they discovered an alternative to tobacco-based cigarettes which are non-addictive and non-cancerous.
  • The Newsflesh series has an interesting take, as 20 Minutes into the Future a Zombie Apocalypse is caused by the merging of cures to the common cold and cancer. Despite the zombies, the two cures also did exactly what they were supposed to, and with no risk of ever getting cancer, smoking becomes a lot more popular. Although it's also noted that its current most serious side effect, emphysema, isn't something you want to be dealing with when a zombie is chasing you.
  • The main characters of Only the Dead Are Cold-Blooded casually smoke in several scenes, and two characters are specifically noted to be nonsmokers with the implication that it's unusual and a bit annoying. Even prisoners are given a (small) ration of tobacco.
  • It's mentioned in The Outsiders (which takes place in the 60s) that everyone in fourteen-year old Ponyboy's part of town smokes. He didn't even realize it was abnormal for a kid to smoke until a man told him so. One of his friends began smoking at age nine. They're all Greaser Delinquents from the Wrong Side of the Tracks. "Socs" seem to prefer drinking over smoking.
  • Flip open a Philo Vance novel, and odds are Vance will either be lighting up a Regie cigarette or in the middle of smoking one. It's enough to make one wonder if author S S Van Dine was getting a price break in recompense.
  • In The Secret History all the main characters smoke except for Bunny. The book being set in a liberal arts college in the eighties, everyone does drugs too.
  • Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous tobacco users. He customarily smokes a pipe, and has made several in-depth studies of different kinds of tobacco and its uses. Tobacco and/or cigarettes are a clue in several original Conan Doyle stories and in the films. In Sherlock Holmes in Washington, one of the Rathbone-Bruce series, a matchbook or match folder is one of the keys.
  • In The Space Merchants, the smoking percentage of the population is likely even higher in The Future than it was in the 1950s when the story was written. If it weren't, a lot of advertising men, including the protagonist (a loyal smoker of his client's Starrs brand), would be quite disappointed, since "Kiddiebutt" cigarettes can not only be marketed to children but are even included with school lunches.
  • Star Wars Legends: Even in a galaxy far, far away a fair number of people were known to smoke.
  • In Watership Down, the rabbit depiction of humans almost always mentions the white sticks that they burn in their mouths. Humans are smoking even in the El-ahrairah myths set in the blurry distant past!
  • In Whispers Under Ground, Peter muses about how, in Inspector Seawoll's heyday, interrogating suspects was a lot easier thanks to this trope. Coppers would simply withhold cigarettes from whomever they were questioning until the suspect craved a smoke so badly that they'd confess just to get one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Chilean series Los 80, which tells the experiences of a very common Chilean family in, obviously, the decade of the '80s, everyone smokes, including parents in front of their children. That caused some indignant letters to the newspapers of people who believed that the series sent a bad message to families.
  • In Absolutely Fabulous, in part. While Edina and Patsy's frequent smoking in Saffron's own home would still be legal in the UK today, it stands out glaringly when Eddie, Patsy and Magda smoke inside the private hospital (which, as noted above, was commonplace in British hospitals until recently), with the nurse bringing a trolley of cigarettes for them to buy. That said, smoking would probably not be advisable for Patsy right before her elective facial surgery.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) (and not just cigarettes either)
    • Apparently Willie didn't listen to his Uncle Sam when he told him not to start smoking.
    • Speaking of which, here's a list of everyone of significance in Caprica who has smoked onscreen: Joseph Adama. Samuel Adama. Amanda Graystone. Daniel Graystone. That Philomon guy. And Sister Clarice is known to frequent a Fantastic Opium Den. Hm. Looks like everyone who isn't in high school out of the main cast.
  • Boardwalk Empire, which makes sense as the show is set in the early 1920's. In fact, the only characters of significance who doesn't smoke (that's old enough to, anyway) are Margaret, Richard who is physically incapable due to his war injuries, and Arnold Rothstein. Everyone else is almost always using one or preparing to light one.
  • Cable Girls is set in Madrid in The Roaring '20s and all the characters smoke.
  • In Call the Midwife, set in the East End of London in the late 50s, most of the characters - including pregnant mothers! - have a casual smoke every so often. It's even a bonding moment for Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, who share a Henley cigarette after a particularly difficult delivery. He does seem a bit surprised when she takes him up on his lighthearted offer, but it's likely that's only because he's never seen her smoke before; the nuns are just about the only characters who aren't constantly lighting up.
  • Dancing on the Edge, a mini-series set in London in the 1930s has everyone smoking except the two Ingenues.
  • Danger 5 is a spoof of 1960s Thriller Spy Drama fiction, and consequently, literally everyone in each scene smokes. Played for Laughs, of course. The second series, set in the 80s, replaces the ubiquitous smoking with ubiquitous cocaine.
  • Deadliest Catch:
    • Most people smoke, and of the few who don't, most of those chew tobacco.
    • One captain (Keith of the F/V Wizard) is trying to quit chewing tobacco at the guilt trip/urging of his daughter. And, while it's somewhat understandable people in a high-mortality profession like crab fishing view long-term risks like smoking differently, there's some indication Captain Sig of the Northwestern has changed his tune after Captain Phil of the Cornelia Marie suffers a pulmonary embolism one season, then a massive stroke and finally dies of a second embolism. Sig reacts to the news by throwing his pack of cigarettes across the wheelhouse.
  • Averted in Doctor Who, even though a huge chunk of it was made in the 60s and 70s, because the cast and crew were worried about setting a bad influence to children. The ubiquity of smoking at the time is still visible in the set designs occasionally; note the pub in "The Android Invasion", where the Doctor starts picking through ashtrays to examine the cigarette butts.
  • Watch almost any cooking-based reality show that shows contestants during their breaks, and you'll see every single contestant smoking like a chimney. This is somewhat ironic, as pointed out by Gordon Ramsay (famous chef and host/judge of Hell's Kitchen). He does not smoke and has berated contestants for the habit, which deadens the sense of taste and actually makes them worse chefs than they would be otherwise. (Cooks often smoke because it's the only way they can get to take a breather during service.)
  • Hogan's Heroes didn't normally show people smoking, but it did have a running joke in the form of Hogan stealing Klink's cigars whenever his back was turned, as well as frequent attempts to bribe Schultz with cigarettes.
  • In the early seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street, the cast smoked like chimneys and scenes set in the squad room were practically hazy with cigarette smoke. A subplot in one episode focused on Bayliss and Howard's attempt to quit causing strife amongst the detectives because they asked for accommodations (like a non-smoking section) that Giardello was unable and unwilling to make. As societal attitudes towards smoking changed, it gradually became less of a feature.
  • Because it's set in The '50s, nearly everyone in the BBC series The Hour smokes.
  • Played with on How I Met Your Mother. People smoke when it becomes plot-relevant, most often cigars but sometimes cigarettes or...sandwiches. However, in fact they're pretty regular smokers, Future Ted just doesn't talk about it much because he's telling the story to his kids.
  • I Love Lucy: Not only did all four of the series leads smoke regularly (at least during the first five years of the show), many of the guest stars lit up.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • Intimate: All five main characters smoke, and alongside lots of Random Smoking Scenes it's also sometimes used as a plot point, gag, or for characterization — Jonas and Leo smoke together after sex, Emil is able to break the ice with his potential co-star at an audition over a cigarette, Leo has several Cigarettes of Anxiety and physically attacks a player at a LARP game who chides him for breaking the immersion, the owner of the campsite the guys travel to gets on their case when they immediately break the no-smoking rule, etc. This is a contemporary German series, and while showing casual smoking isn't as frowned upon as it would be in an American production, it's still unusual for it to be so prevalent. The show's conceit is that a group of twentysomething guys are starring As Themselves, and as they all smoke in real life, they do so on screen as well.
  • In The Knowledge, many characters are seen smoking indoors, as was typical in the 1970s.
  • Life On Mars: Even at crime scenes and morgues. And in hospitals. Weirdly, it was totally OK to smoke in hospitals in the UK back then - they even came round with a trolley selling them!
  • Mad Men: Lampshaded by the DVD packaging which resembles a giant Zippo lighter. Of course, it's not literally everyone. A few characters (Pete Campbell being the most notable) don't smoke. Word of God states that the non-smoking characters are the ones whose actors were never smokers in Real Life; even though the cigarettes are herbal, this is apparently important to them.
  • Smoking is really prevalent among the main characters in The Man in the High Castle taking place in Alternate History 1960s America.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The main characters are rarely shown smoking. This is notable because the series was filmed during a time when smoking was common and takes place in a time before anyone thought smoking was bad for your health. However, every major male character was seen smoking at some time in the series; Col. Potter confessed to enjoying 5 cigars a day for decades. Even Radar during the first and second seasons was seen smoking (and drinking whisky).
    • Camp Chef Igor can be seen with an actual cigarette in one episode. Also, there's a lot of smoking in the movie.
  • Played for laughs in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in which Stacey Keach played the title character, who always dressed like a 1950s Private Detective in fedora and trenchcoat with a permanent cigarette in his mouth, despite living in the 1980s where everyone kept telling him to stop smoking.
  • Except for Willie (played by bodybuilder Peter Lupus), all the original cast of Mission: Impossible smoked, Cinnamon and Rollin especially. Became a plot point a couple of times, when doctored cigarettes were used to make marks more pliable.
  • Narcos takes place mostly in The '80s, so as is appropriate for the time, nearly every adult character is shown smoking at least once. Félix Gallardo in particular from Narcos: Mexico is either lighting up or smoking in almost every scene, which his actor had to find some workarounds for so he could save his lungs.
  • Our Friends in the North is set before the UK's smoking ban went nationwide, and it shows.
  • Poirot: True to the Agatha Christie novels, everyone smokes. Sometimes they smoke so much it's hard to see through the blue haze.
  • Commented on in Roseanne, who lists all the characters on TV shows from her childhood who smoked on camera.
  • In Shtisel, Shulem, Akiva, Lippe, and Nuchem all smoke, but hardly any of the female characters do. The negative effects of smoking are seen in Shulem, whose doctor tells him to quit if he wants to avoid a heart attack.
  • Skins focuses on the sex and party lives of British teenagers, and naturally most of them smoke as well.
  • The shift of this trope across the years was pretty much the entire basis of short-lived British sitcom The Smoking Room, set in the early 00s when these were a fairly common feature of large workplaces- smoking at one's desk or the general break room having become felt to be obnoxious by the majority, but the laws against actually smoking in a workplace building not being passed yet. The whole premise was that people now mixed in the smoking room from different areas and levels who wouldn't otherwise speak to each other (with a strong subtext that this meant all the best and most interesting interactions went on in there, as was the writer's conviction).
  • About the only adults in Sons of Anarchy who don't smoke are the hospital workers.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series is somewhat notable for averting this. The network wanted to use this trope, but Gene Roddenberry refused, on the grounds that given the known health risks of smoking, people would have stopped doing it that far into the future. This was particularly grating on DeForest Kelley (most of the cast smoked - William Shatner actually quit during the show's run - but he was the heaviest smoker) who pleaded with Roddenberry that they be allowed to smoke futuristic "space-erettes". Smoke from Kelley's cigarette (obscured by a large surgical apparatus his character is using) can be seen in the OR scenes in "Journey to Babel".
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • The episode Far Beyond The Stars is set in the 1950s, where everyone... well, guess.
    • Same thing in the episode Little Green Men, Earth 1947. Once the story reaches Earth, it's a smoke-fest for the next 30 minutes. Every human who has more than 2 seconds of screen-time is seen smoking at least once. The trope is played straight with a vengeance as an homage to old "alien menace" movies, and as part of a Take That! at smoking. The Ferengi talk about how humans willfully ingest poison simply because it's addictive, and Quark even tells a General that Humans should stop smoking because it would kill them. One moment shows one of the characters lighting up two cigarettes so that he can pass one to his girlfriend, and when Nog tells Quark that people bought and used tobacco mainly because it was so addictive, he gets greedy and starts overestimating what easy marks humans must be. One of the episode's writers regretted how it came off, and said that if he had to do it over again, he would have Quark come back home with a craving for a cigarette.
      Quark: If they'll buy poison, they'll buy anything!
  • Teachers (2001) has many of the main cast smoking, not only at the pub but also illicitly in the school toilets and in maintenance areas of the school grounds. As with many of the above examples, even the legal smoking areas depicted stand out to UK viewers, who have been unable to smoke in workplaces and public buildings (including pubs) since 2006.
  • All four main characters in Till Death Us Do Part did, and Alf was a staunch defender of smoking. Notably, Alf was always shown as a pipe smoker, to the point where Warren Mitchell was named Pipe Smoker of the Year in 1967 (although he refused to accept the award).
  • The Tonight Show: Especially during the Jack Parr and to a somewhat lesser extent the first 15-20 years of the Johnny Carson era, a large number of the guests smoked on-camera, without restriction. Even Parr, Carson and — to a lesser extent — Ed McMahon, smoked on-camera, although by 1980 or so, Carson and McMahon eventually stopped lighting up on the set.
  • Most of the characters in Twin Peaks smoke because it's a 1950s throwback.
  • In UFO (1970), the characters regularly smoke in computer rooms, medical areas, SHADO's underground headquarters, the Skydiver submarines and even on Moonbase! Averted in "Sub Smash" where a nurse tells Commander Straker he can't smoke inside a hospital room.
  • In the show Undercover Boss many of the workers and a few bosses smoke. The biggest example is when the boss buys an ashtray for a lady who goes into the parking garage to smoke and throws the cigarettes on the ground.
  • The revived Upstairs Downstairs, set in the 1930s, had a Mad Men-like amount of smoking going on.
  • French sketch comedy show Vous Les Femmes takes this as a self-evident truth. This is France, after all.note . Quite often, central actress Judith Siboni is seen nursing a cigarette.
  • The Wire started out with nearly every character being a smoker. By the time season 5 came around, the number of characters who regularly visibly smoked was much smaller.
  • In an episode of The X-Files we see a scene in the 50s, where a man smokes in a hospital (the character who lights the cigarette is known as Cigarette-Smoking Man, so we should not be surprised).

  • Analog: Because the magazine began in the 1930s, smoking ads were a common component, advertising for their ability to "keep out throat dangers".

  • Invoked by Rilo Kiley:
    My eyes burn, Everybody Smokes
    My eyes burn, Everybody Smokes
    I smoke, too, but not as much as you
    I do the Smoke Detector.
    • Jenny Lewis specifically called this one an "anti-anti-smoking song". Make of that what you will.
    • Of course, they could easily be doing another kind of smoking, but one suspects that both meanings were intended.
  • In early Tom Waits songs, there are more references to Kents, Lucky Strikes, and the like than you can shake a stick at.
  • Common in Hair Metal, Heavy Metal, and Visual Kei videos well into The New '10s. To name examples would be too exhaustive, because there are too many.
  • The 1947 Western swing song "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" by Tex Williams (a No. 1 Country hit for 16 weeks) is all about Tex finding it irritating that EVERYBODY always has to take a minute to pause and smoke their cigarette.

  • In Mary Mary, Mary considers the fact that Bob smokes only one pack of cigarettes a day normal and "sensible." (One of Mary's annoying little habits is neglecting to put her own cigarettes out.) Tiffany says she doesn't smoke because it stains her teeth, which is implied to be due to her overly sheltered upper-class upbringing.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock, being set in 1960. Although you rarely see another person smoking, there's plenty of boxes of Oxford Club and Nico Time lying around (that take away Health but restore EVE). It's also notable that cigarettes are one of the biggest products for smugglers.
    • BioShock Infinite one-ups its predecessor by featuring a children's cigarette brand ('Minor Victory') in Columbia. There are even some kids apparently taking smoke breaks scattered throughout the game (which is historically accurate for delinquent boys of the time period).
  • Deus Ex: While you will not see anyone actually smoking, cigs are a relatively common find throughout the game, and there are usually cigarette vending machines in public. In a nightclub, one NPC will ask you for a light. JC can smoke as well, but at the cost of 10 health points to the torso, making it at full health, chain smoking 10 packs in a row will kill you.
    • The prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, plays this straight as well. Walk down the street of Detroit, or heck, even just step outside the Sarif Offices at the helipad, and you'll see all sorts of people smoking a cigarette. The player character, Adam Jensen is also a smoker as well, presumably to deal with the stress of becoming an augment. Of course, since he can get an aug upgrade that allows him to breathe in visibly green toxic gas with no ill effects, cigarette smoke is probably of no concern to him.
    • The fan-made prequel 2027 also features this. Matches and cigarettes are a common find.
  • In Fallout 4, most followers have a Idle Animation of them smoking, and if you have a bar set up in any of your settlements, any settler has a chance of lighting up a cigarette in front of it.
  • Grim Fandango, a LucasArts adventure game, is heavily influenced by Film Noir, and so everybody smokes like chimneys. The joke? It takes place in the Land of the Dead, so all the characters are already deceased. Walking, talking skeletons can't get lung cancer because they have no lungs.
  • In L.A. Noire, pretty much every character smokes except the protagonist. If you stand around for too long, your partners will light up a cigarette.
  • Like a Dragon: Whether it is set in the past or contemporary times, many of the characters are often seen grabbing and lighting up a cigarette in the middle of conversations, indoors or outdoors.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: Just about every named character either smokes (Snake, almost every single MSF soldier, Amanda, Chico, and Paz's true persona), has smoked in the past (Miller and Galvez quit), or otherwise uses tobacco products (Huey uses an electronic cigarette, Strangelove and Pacifica Ocean use snuff).
  • The Saboteur, despite its cartoonish Dieselpunk aspect, actually stays true to the period as far as this trope goes. The player can even tap a button to have Sean light up if he's standing around doing nothing. One loading screen lampshades it, calling smoking one of Sean's least healthy habits (the man routinely climbs buildings, blows up buildings, crashes cars, and gets into gun fights, so that's saying something).
  • In Starcraft it's ubiquitous. Among the Terrans, at least. Not sure the Protoss even breathe, but they don't have mouths.
  • The ad for truth serum cigarettes in the Team Fortress 2 Spy update claims, "There is no one who does not like to smoke." Appropriate, since the vague time period the game's set in most closely resembles The '60s.
    • Spy is not the only class to smoke. Here's what some of the other classes prefer:
      Cigarettes (Demoman, Sniper, the Administrator)
      Cigars (Soldier and Heavy, as well as the Team Fortress Classic Engineer)
      Pipes (Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Medic, Sniper)

    Visual Novels 
  • Many members of the Ayashiro family in Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir, which is set in the 1980s, either regularly smoke or used to smoke in the past, but quit due to the town's doctor advising them against it. Which becomes a plot point when it's revealed that the culprit used cyanide-laced tobacco to kill his victims and was forced to find other ways of disposing of the non-smokers.
  • In Lucky Dog 1, practically all of the main characters smoke cigars or cigarettes with some having preferences for one over the other (Gian, for instance, only smokes cigarettes, while Luchino seems to like cigars). This is probably justified since the plot is following the lives of criminals in the 1930's. In fact, only two of the characters, Giulio and Bakshi, don't ever seem to smoke.

  • Avania: Much of the cast smoke, be it cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. Not that surprising considering the comic is based in a 1940s-ish setting full of military personnel.
  • In Jennifer Babcock's C'est la Vie, Mona (who is French) smokes as if daring the entire USA to physically prevent her.
  • In Sarilho, the augurs are constantly seen smoking in mild anxiety over their machines. They share their cigars a lot though, and everyone seems to accept them.
  • Many characters in The Word Weary smoke (Harry the Hipster, Grace, John and Poor Trotmann) though it takes place in the present day. This is somewhat justified in that the main character works in a hookah lounge.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of The Cleveland Show had a flashback to America somewhere between the 20s and 40s. In the flashback, literally everyone smoked, even a baby and a dog.
  • An Imagine Spot on Family Guy, about how people used to eat in the 50s.
    Man: Steak and donut sandwich, please.
    Waiter: You want cigarettes on that sandwich?
    Man: What do I look like, a Mary? Yes, I want cigarettes!
  • Although not in the show itself, The Flintstones did commercials during the first two seasons of the original airing extolling the great taste of Winstons.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Spoofed in "HOMR", when Homer and Marge watch an old Itchy & Scratchy cartoon with everyone smoking.
    • The show itself went through this. In the first seasons, many characters smoked; apart from the chronic smokers Patty and Selma, so did Ms. Krabappel, Mr. Burns (cigars), Skinner, Krusty, Troy McClure, Otto, and most of Moe's clients. Even Homer was seen smoking from time to time. This was downplayed as the series continued and smoking became less common (it should be remembered that The Simpsons have been going for 30 years) to the point that nowadays the only characters that are regular smokers are Patty, Selma, and Krusty.
  • An episode of The Venture Bros. reveals that the old Rusty Venture Show was sponsored by smoking. Not a specific brand of tobacco, smoking itself.


Video Example(s):


Tanya Hates Smoking

A salaryman from the 21st Century where the dangers of Smoking are well-known about and is a matter of preference that has dedicated areas where Smoking is practiced away from the conscientious, is reincarnated as a girl in the early 20th Century where Smoking is seen as the social norm.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / StraightEdgeEvil

Media sources: