The American Cancer Society has promoted the Great American Smokeout every third Thursday of November since 1977. As always, today's challenge is simple: Stop smoking for 24 hours. Their hope is that setting such an easily attainable goal will inspire at least some smokers to quit permanently.
We don't know how many Americans have stopped smoking as a result of the event. In fact, we don't know much about health in general -- after all, we eat a lot of movie theater popcorn and Goobers. However, we do know that the medical backlash against tobacco use has forced studios to diminish smoking in films. Ten years ago, viewers hardly noticed if a character smoked. Now it stands out like a sore thumb.
Not all directors and actors have gotten the message yet. The following recent movie characters -- all smokers -- should have taken a hint and butted out.
Sigourney Weaver, 'Avatar'
James Cameron has defended his choice to make Grace Augustine a chain smoker because "she's rude" and only cares about her avatar body, not her real one.
That may be true, but she's also supposed to be a futuristic scientific genius. Wouldn't she have realized that keeping her true self healthy longer would allow her avatar to live longer as well?
Robert Pattinson, 'Remember Me'
Summit Entertainment was able to keep photos of Pattinson holding a cigarette out of the media until this film, despite the actor who plays Edward Cullen being a smoker in real life. Maybe they promised to let him light up in a movie if he agreed to keep his bad habit on the down-low during the first two 'Twilight' films?
In 'Remember Me,' his character, Tyler, is a moody 21-year-old New Yorker working at a bookstore. Why pile on another cliched stereotype by making him be a smoker?
Sylvester Stallone and Mickey Rourke, 'The Expendables'
The concept for this movie was cool: old mercenaries who keep being mercenaries because they only know that line of work.
However, where did Stallone get his mercenary character archetype? Sergeant Slaughter? How many old mercenaries are chomping on cigars like Stallone does and are still able to run around? Rourke's character, meanwhile, smokes a pipe. Aren't his urban cowboy hat and metal teeth eccentric enough? Smoking tobacco from an old-timey opium pipe seems like overkill.
James Gandolfini, 'Welcome to the Rileys'
Doug Riley is depressed after losing his daughter in a car crash. Sure, depressed characters have a tendency to smoke. But he's also overweight. Nine years of that lifestyle (his daughter died in 2001), and you can't help but be distracted from the story by wondering when the heart attack is coming.
Kim Cattrall, 'Sex and the City' and 'Sex and the City 2'
We understand Samantha is supposed to be the risqué one, but she's also supposed to be hip and fashionable. She smokes a cigar in the first film, a trend that is passé for women since Demi Moore did it 15 years ago on the cover of 'Cigar Aficionado.' In the second film, she fellates a hookah pipe. Hookahs and miming blowjobs stop being edgy the second you graduate from college.
Danny Trejo, 'Machete'
It's already a huge leap to believe a 66-year-old guy can run around killing everyone and bedding 20-somethings as hot as Michele Rodriguez, Jessica Alba and Lindsay Lohan (wait, the last one is totally believable). It's another thing to believe he still has the lung power to do all that while being a chain smoker.
Tehilla Blad, 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest'
Two quick disclaimers come with this entry. First, we understand smoking is viewed differently in Europe than in the United States, although many countries are banning it in closed public areas. Second, we're not sure there is a word in Swedish for "overkill."
Even so, does she really need the cigarette? The mohawk, nose-piercing, all-black attire and multiple tribal earrings already lets us know Lisbeth Salander is a disturbed protagonist. What does the cigarette really add? Why not just have a crack pipe or bottle of Jack Daniels in her lips? Of course that wouldn't exactly fit with the character's profile from the book, and isn't exactly healthy either, but you get the point. The cigarette is overkill and a distraction from an otherwise compelling movie poster.