Okay, okay! Smoking is bad, we get it!
Many of the cartoons I grew up watching had smoking in them, but I didn't grow up to be a junkie. I just grew up to be a deadbeat, like all the other healthy god-fearing children of my generation who knew the difference between right and wrong.
Even though I was a child of the over-sensitive 1980s, I was still able to watch a lot of the old cartoons my parents grew up with - many of which already depicted smoking to be symbolic of evil. Only the sleazy, the power-mad or the overtly mean cartoon characters smoked. And if they did, it was usually a cigar that was a permanent protrusion from their pursed, evil lips. To my recollection, I never interpreted it as being cool. For example, Mickey Mouse's nemesis Pete was never cool. He was a total asshole!
Some wiser, older characters smoked pipes. Popeye had a pipe. But he never smoked it to my knowledge. He tried smoking once, but it was only to prove he was manly. And it was more horrifying than cool.
Okay, it was still pretty cool. But I'm almost positive that was the only time Popeye ever tried to lead me astray into thinking smoking was cool!
Maybe it was the second time.
Lots of generally good cartoon characters have had smoking vices.
Mickey Mouse lit up the screen early in his career as seen in 1928's 'The Gallopin' Gaucho'.
Porky Pig tried his first cigar in 1938's 'Wholly Smoke' - on his way to church yet!
Donald Duck's ego is the smoke-sucking bully in 1938's 'Donald's Better Self', who makes him hit the "quack" pipe in order to prove his manhood.
Goofy had quite the problem in 1951's 'No Smoking', perhaps the funniest smoking cartoon of all time.
Considering its time of release, it's surprising to see a cartoon that depicts smoking in such an unflattering light. Especially considering the way it was being advertised back then.
Back in the 1960s, an advertiser REALLY got their money's worth. Winston Cigarettes received flack for their sponsorship of The Flintstones - perhaps wrongly so considering it was still a prime-time series intended for adults. But after 2 seasons and upon the birth of Fred's daughter, Pebbles, Winston caved and proved that even big cancer-fuelling corporations can have a heart, and cancelled their sponsorship of The Flintstones.
Other big cancer-fuelling corporations also used cartoon characters to sell their product. And they sounded suspiciously like familiar kiddie icons, like Mr. Jinks and Huckleberry Hound. "Wow mom, smoking looks fun! And SOUNDS fun too!"
Looking at these endorsement deals, I doubt Daws Butler (heard here again sounding exactly like Mr. Jinks) ever purchased a package of cigarettes in his life!
Kind of a conflict of interest though considering he was also voicing stuff like this at the time...
Man, that Yogi Bear could be downright preachy at times when it came to smoking.
I don't blame Yogi for this. By the 1980s, concerned parents and coalitions for quality programming became the voice of Yogi Bear and all other cartoon characters.
By 1990, these cartoon characters became narcs, part of a secret task force organized by the President and First Lady.
By the 2000s, I don't think you could even say the word 'smoke' anymore. But by then it didn't matter, because cool people stopped making quality cartoons for fear of pissing off somebody's mom. Now kids were watching old vintage cartoons on speciality channels, at any given hour of the day. And angry moms everywhere decided those too needed to be sanitized like everything else.
Obviously I'm being a tad snarky here. Edits to classic cartoons happened decades previous to the 2000s. But maybe they were just done less vocally. And with less attention to detail.
For example, I found a 2001 article from Pediatrics Magazine, that broke down the bad influences that older Walt Disney films presented to our children. And don't worry - there were stats! The worst offender was 1945's The Three Caballeros, which apparently showcases 10.5 minutes of pro-smoking footage within a 72 minute running time. This can be attributed to the fact that Donald Duck's friend, José Carioca, has a cigar in his mouth the entire time.
In 2007, Disney announced it would ban scenes of smoking from all future family-friendly fare, and significantly reduce smoking scenes from more adult-skewing material from their Touchstone Pictures and Miramax divisions.
In 2006, Turner Broadcasting, owners of a cartoon channel called Boomerang, announced they would edit scenes from hundreds of cartoons where smoking was "condoned, acceptable or glamorized" - all over a single complaint received from a viewer in Britain. Two specific Tom And Jerry cartoons were cited as being inappropriate for children, both of which contained scenes of smoking - 1950's 'Texas Tom' and 1949's 'Tennis Chumps'. Never mind that Tom and Jerry was also notorious for racism and relentless acts of violence! No, smoking is what needed to go!
Here are some other examples of scenes where smoking is "condoned, accepted and glamorized" - all of which will be butted out eventually.
But what about the reason we celebrate 4/20? "Where's the good shit", you ask?
Well, Ralph Bakshi brought the counterculture a little further into the forefront with 1972's X-rated Fritz The Cat, which featured several scenes of casual smoking and one full-on freakout.
The Simpsons has featured tons of tobacco use!
And some tomacco use.
But they also haven't been scared to experiment with harder stuff.
Here's an episode from Season 13 called 'Weekend At Burnsie's', where Homer gets hooked on medicinal marijuana. Fox was supposedly nervous about airing the episode, even though Homer is never actually seen smoking marijuana. An article in Cannabis Culture deemed the episode "uncool" by predicting the network received federal handouts for airing anti-drug propaganda! And the episode of King of The Hill that aired before The Simpsons that night coincidentally contained anti-drug PSA's, maaaan!
Family Guy also tackled the subject of stoners in a Season 7 episode called '420'. The episode proved popular here in North America, with Brian becoming the first-ever non-human recipient of High Times' prestigious 'Stoner Of The Year' award in 2009. The episode proved not so popular in Venezuela though, where the government banned the episode for its glorification of drug use, and vowed to fine cable networks who aired it.
Here's an interesting pro-marijuana cartoon called 'The Flower' from Black Mustache , which has been puffed and passed along to over 2 million viewers online.
For some reason, these cartoons made me hungry for more cereal. But before I depart, I'd like to provide you with some inspiration in case you want to consider quitting. With the right motivation, I believe you can kick any bad habit.
Or at least find a better reason not to.