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Dying for a Smoke (1967)

Old Nick tempts a group of teenagers into smoking.


John Halas


Joy Batchelor (script)


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Uncredited cast:
Warren Mitchell ... Old Nick O'Teen (voice) (uncredited)


Old Nick tempts a group of teenagers into smoking.

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Animation | Short







Release Date:

1967 (UK) See more »

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Well Meaning Animation But Misses The Point About Addiction
2 August 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

One of the enduring myths of the 20th Century is that people once believed that scientists and doctors thought smoking was good for human health . Absolute nonsense . Cigarette companies did indeed market cigarettes in this way but this was down to marketing not scientific basis . I'm sure I've mentioned this before that the drill manual of the British army of the First World War states that smoking affects the powers of endurance and should be discouraged on marches . I have seen a medical text book from the 1930s that states smoking a clay pipe is a cause of lip cancer and both American and Nazi scientists in the 1930s made great head way in finding out that there was a direct cause between smoking and lung cancer . Professor Richard Doll is credited with being the man who discovered the link between lung cancer and cigarette smoking in 1958 but he almost certainly " borrowed " some of his information from earlier sources . Cigarette companies did of course ignore this evidence and only put their hands up because the government forced them to

This 1967 animated film from Halas and Batchelor warns of the dangers of cigarette smoking . No doubt this is the type of film that got shown in schools warning older children/teens about the danger of smoking . One thing it does get right right from the outset is the rabidly addictive nature of nicotine . If you're a smoker ex or practising you'll remember that the effect it had on your brain when you started and experienced a sensation similar to the mother of all orgasms , a sensation that quickly becomes intense the more you smoke and quickly disappears over a short period of time . Here smokers are portrayed as slave to Nick O'Tine a devilish figure who seduces youths in to a chain gang . Anyone shouting out the obvious punchline of " Oh chain smokers " will be asked to leave the room

What this short doesn't do very well is after warning the audience of the dangers of addiction is that it seems relatively easy to stop . The young teenage protagonist asks why doctors smoke only to be told most doctors stopped . This is true to an extent and one notable ex-smoker was Prof Richard Doll but you have to remember doctors have to see lots of people with smoking related illnesses which would be a great motive to stop . Likewise the protagonist talks to an adult ex-smoker who claims no one knew about the dangers of smoking in his day ( Not true since scientists knew ) who seems to have found smoking cessation a little bit too easy . The reality is that the vast majority of people in 2013 don't smoke because they never took up the habit in the first place rather than giving it up and it seems contradictory that a short film warning about addiction doesn't concentrate on how difficult it is to beat an addiction . How do you give up a drug ? Don't take it in the first place would be the best advice

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