The Guardian reports that tobacco giant Philip Morris will be putting ads in industry papers like Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter, asking studios to no longer use any of their brands in feature films. Media critics have often accused cigarette makers of using movies as free advertising, but lately most of the attention was unflattering; images of dying Marlboro Men and sinister corporate thugs in movies like The Insider and Thank You For Smoking. Since there has already been a policy in place for years about product placement with little effect, you have to wonder whether these ads will really do anything -- well, other than making Philip Morris look like good corporate citizens. You really can't take their complaint very seriously when they're unwilling to even sue studios for breach of copyright.
Other than a return to a "production code" style of policing the movies -- an idea that should make everyone just a little uncomfortable, I doubt a few half-hearted protests from Philip Morris will make the movies hang a "no smoking" sign.