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Smoking Is Not Cool

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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 can be made more unlikeable or unattractive by having them smoke. This can happen by having them taunt a 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.


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. And, more seriously, exposure to secondhand smoke can be seriously detrimental to infants, children, and anyone with even a slightly dodgy respiratory system (e.g. asthmatics).

See also Do Not Do This Cool Thing and Good Smoking, Evil Smoking. Sub-trope of Drugs Are Bad.



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  • Superman vs. Nick O'Teen teaches that smoking is dangerous and damages your body, and Nick O'Teen, who tries to convince others to smoke, is a low-down villain.
  • Yul Brynner, dying of lung cancer due to his smoking, arranged a Public Service Announcement with the American Cancer Society to tell the public not to repeat his folly.
  • In the Philippines, a 90s anti-smoking campaign by the Department of Health gave birth to the mascot Yosi Kadiri (literally Smoke Disgusting), who indeed looks disgusting to hammer down the message. The mascot proved to be so popular and memorable that he was revived in the 2010s.
  • The Truth Initiative has a series of ads campaigning against smoking and vaping:

     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.
  • Shadow Star:
    • 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.
  • In Doraemon, Nobita's father, Nobisuke (redubbed as Toby in Viz's English dub), is a smoker, and tries to quit several times but always fails.
  • Dear Brother: Rei Asaka AKA "Hana no Saint-Juste". While she's one of the three most admired girls at school and she does smoke on a regular basis, 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 
  • 52 shows us the ramifications of Vic Sage's smoking habit. The lung cancer he had contracted killed him off, allowing Renee Montoya to take over his title.
  • 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 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 smoker's 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 butts 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 whose 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.
  • Longtime Batman supporting character Commissioner Gordon was shown with an alternating fondness for cigarettes and a pipe and Superman character Perry White was a Cigar Chomper—until the 1990s, when it bit them in the ass in the form of, respectively, a heart attack and lung cancer. While both men recovered, they also gave up smoking—at least for a while.
  • In Superman & Batman: Generations, Lois Lane takes up smoking in 1939, claiming it to be as harmless as eating breakfast in the morning. By 1969, however, Lois is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and tells her daughter Kara Kent that smoking is what also ended up killing Perry White. By 1979, Lois is in the hospital and on death's door. Thankfully, that wonderful Dr. Holurt has taken over her treatment.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Toad lights up a lot, and that doesn't add to his already disgusting aspect.

     Fan Works 

     Film — Animated 

     Film — Live-Action 

  • In Blubber by Judy Blume, the main character, Jill, pressures her mother into quitting smoking by pointing out the health risks every chance she gets. In the same author's Then Again, Maybe I Won't, the main character, Tony, gets his crush, Lisa, to give up smoking by relating the story of his grandmother, who had her larynx removed due to throat cancer (although he neglects to mention that his grandmother never smoked at all and that her cancer was just one of those freak things).
  • This trope is the entire premise of another young adult novel, Give It Up, Mom (1989) by Mary Robinson. Assigned a school project with the aim of making a difference in the world, middle-schooler Rayne decides her project will be to help her mother, Laura, quit smoking. Rayne is so enthusiastic about the idea that she goes so far as to hand out fliers with pictures of her mother on them to local store clerks, asking them not to sell Laura cigarettes (which naturally does not go over well with Rayne's mother). Despite the rocky ride she's in for, with her mother's constant grouchiness and having to deal with several relapses, Rayne is determined to stay on her mother's back for as long as it takes.
  • Night Shift: In Quitters, Inc., the main character has a serious smoking problem, and becomes a client of the titular company that helps people quit. It is really telling something that in spite of the extremely cruel methods used by the company (such as electrocuting the protagonist's wife when they caught him smoking), the wife was eventually grateful to them because they finally managed to make her husband quit.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Faux Pause, a Game Show Network-produced Mystery Science Theater 3000 knockoff where the hosts ripped (mainly short-lived) game shows. One of the most infamous episodes mocked Hot Potato, hosted by Bill Cullen, and the steam-spewing sign, the hosts saying (more or less) the steam was the result of someone smoking a bunch of cigarettes at once and then exhaling. A Dude, Not Funny! moment as Cullen died of lung cancer as the result of heavy smoking almost his entire adult life.
  • The Brady Bunch: "Where There's Smoke," where Carol is part of an anti-smoking committee at Greg's school at the same time he is seen experimenting with smoking due to peer pressure. Greg ultimately decides he doesn't like it, but when another parent sees him with a pack of cigarettes (from a buddy's coat, which he took by mistake), things look bad.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: In a Season 6 episode, Arnold and his buddy, Dudley, experiment with cigarettes until Dudley's adopted father reveals that he is a chronic smoker and is about to undergo a lung transplant ... and that might not even help to save his life.
  • 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.
  • You Can't Do That on Television dealt with the topic of smoking in two episodes, which, while they focused at length on the health risks and "grossness" of the habit, did so in the show's typical satirical fashion. The first episode, made in 1981, is arguably the better-written and more intelligent of the two and even features the show's man of many characters, Les Lye, coming out of character at the end of the episode to deliver an anti-smoking message. The second of the two smoking-themed episodes (made in 1989) posited the theory that the show's trademark green slime is actually mucus scraped from smokers' lungs.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Quark, his brother Rom, and his nephew Nog discuss this in the episode "Little Green Men", while they are being held captive by the US government in the 1950s.
    Quark: What's that disgusting smell?
    Nog: I think it's called "tobacco". It's a deadly drug. When used frequently, it destroys the internal organs.
    Quark: If it's so deadly, then why do they use it?
    Nog: It's also highly addictive.
    Rom: How do they get their hands on it?
    Nog: They buy it in stores.
    Quark: They buy it? If they'll buy poison, they'll buy anything!
  • Thanks: When relatives from Jamestown introduce Plymouth to tobacco, it's portrayed as a disgusting habit. When their supply runs out, all the smokers suffer from withdrawal and storm the Winthrop house in anger.
  • Played for Laughs, of a very Black Comedy kind, in Chewin' the Fat. A whole family of smokers has had to get themselves fitted with electronic voice boxes because of their throat cancer. Their postman also has a voice box!

  • "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.
  • In Relient K's song "Deathbed", the singer starts drinking and smoking cigarettes at 14. His alcoholism and habitual drinking lead to a lot of misery, cultivating in lung cancer. It ends on a Bittersweet Ending, however, as he became Christian and went to heaven in the end.

     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.
  • Doonesbury had this come up to Mr. Butts, the sycophantic mascot of the tobacco industry of all characters. As part of a promotion, Butts comes up behind a guy who exudes coolness and asks if he smokes. The guy, never turning around to see who is asking, simply replies, "No, smoking is for idiots."
  • In Curtis, the only time Curtis's dad's smoking is ever mentioned is when Curtis is trying to convince him to stop.
  • In Dilbert a Tobacco lobbyist talks about wanting to spread the image of sex appeal that smoking brings while she herself is a withered husk in a suit.

     Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: In the North American version, Traveling Matt encounters people smoking cigarettes and cigars, which he thinks are tubes they use to light fires inside their mouths. He notes that, judging from the way they cough, it can't be healthy. Matt throws a pitcher of water on a man smoking a cigar to keep the "fire in the man's mouth" from getting "out of control."
  • The Noddy Shop: In the Grand Finale "Closing Up Shop", some of the characters convince Seymour Polutski not to buy out NODDY's by telling him that smoking is bad.

     Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Dante was explicitly designed with this in mind, Word of God declaring that he's "too cool to smoke." His Continuity Reboot counterpart in DmC: 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.
    • In Devil May Cry 5, Nero dislikes Nico's smoking habit, though he'll light a cigarette for her. V shows he dislikes it too by fanning away the smoke. The game also has a message in the intro/Mission 1 cutscene stating that the game does not promote smoking.
  • 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 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, in which 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 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots plays this painfully straight as Old Snake keeps losing his cigarettes or getting them confiscated and, at one point, is coughing away with an 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:
    • Zigzagged with Chris. He smokes in the uncut intro of the first game; no mention is made of it for years afterwards, but circumstances lead to him chain-smoking in Resident Evil 6. Piers is quick to call him out on it.
    • 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. His early character concepts from 2 did depict him as a smoker (with the only evidence in the final game being that his personal item is a Zippo lighter), so he presumably quit at some point.
  • 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.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the Penguin has had to attach a voice box to his neck because of all that smoking he does.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: Ana is dying of terminal lung cancer, and even this doesn't stop her from smoking cigarettes. Ultimately, what kills her is not cancer but Trinity deciding You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and sending a sniper to shoot her.
  • The Detective in Disco Elysium thinks Smoking Is Cool (and during his youth, it perhaps was), but it's wrecked his lungs, aged him from the strikingly handsome Precinct 'rock star' he was in his 30s to a sad, bloated old man, and turned his fingers brown. Klaasje chain-smokes menthol cigarettes, and it's slowly ruining her movie-star good looks (the Detective notes that Klaasje's glittery disco catsuit, close-up, is covered with burn marks from the cigarette ash). The Deserter smokes and it's part of his overall joyless, miserable old age; and while Kim smokes, in part because he loves the cool image of it (and Harry praises how cool he looks while doing so), he is also ashamed of himself for falling for the affectation, notes how unhealthy and pointless it is, and limits himself to exactly one cigarette a day.
  • The news reporter in Perfect Vermin is seen smoking cigarettes off-screen between levels as indicated by his ashtray. His Jerkass behavior, Gonkish appearance, and discolored yellow and rotting teeth do not paint a cool image of him. He's also dying of lung cancer as a result of his addiction.


     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • Patty and Selma, who are already very ugly and downright unpleasant company, smoke heavily. In fact, a flashback in "Three Men and a Comic Book" 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, gravelly voice. After a few seasons (and a lot of bad jokes) it was revealed to be the result of chain-smoking:
    Jefferson Twilight: "Do you smoke cigarettes or do you eat them?"
  • Bravestarr rams this message down your throat. Big Bad Tex Hex had a toadying lickspittle named Scuzz who smokes cigars and is always coughing and hacking up a storm. The other villains despise him, and in one Knowing Is Half The Battle segment, even he admits that he regrets having started the habit in the first place.
  • 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 to 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.
  • This is the subject of the "Sonic Sez" segment at the end of the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Full-Tilt Tails", wherein Grounder smokes a cigarette and makes Tails do the same. As Grounder ends up choking on his cigarette and turning a pale green, Sonic explains to the viewers that smoking is bad for your health and stains your teeth.
  • Pinky and the Brain: In the Very Special Episode "Inherit the Wheeze", Brain gets addicted to smoking after being used for animal testing of the effects of nicotine, and Pinky starts to worry his friend has a "monkey in his pants". Brain's latest scheme to Take Over the World involves becoming the Joe Cool-esque mascot for a tobacco company, and all the executives at the company are shown as sleazebags with terrible smoker's coughs. Hell, the company president is a wheelchair-bound invalid who looks like he's pushing a hundred even though he's only in his forties. Brain gives up on the scheme and vows to kick the habit when he sees the execs plan to use him to market cigarettes to kids.

     Real Life 
  • Most smokers really start looking uglier as they get older. Apart from their veins turning their skin pale, many develop an annoying smoker's 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 to the point where cigarettes were a part of field rations, 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 the age of 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.
  • Legendary Japanese animator Osamu Dezaki was a notorious chain-smoker, and it eventually killed him with lung cancer at the age of 67.