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Arts and Entertainment

Vintage Video: John Waters Puffs His Way Through Movie Theater Anti-Smoking PSA

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These days, before the film starts, your favorite movie theater is likely to warn you to turn off your cellphone, and remind you to buy a pile of overpriced fare from the snack bar. Some theaters may still politely request you not smoke in the theater, because, if you can imagine, once upon a time, smoking used to be totally fine. But when it was originally time to butt out, some theaters really tried to drive the message home to audiences, like in this old PSA starring filmmaker John Waters.

Created to be shown ahead of screenings of Waters' landmark release "Pink Flamingos," at L.A.'s Nuart Theatre, the PSA asking patrons not to smoke stars a dubious Waters puffing away, says Open Culture.

“How can anyone sit through the length of a film, especially a European film, and not have a cigarette?” asks an incredulous Waters as he calmly inhales and exhales off his smoldering cig.

"For years [the anti-smoking PSA] was only available as an extra on the 1995 laserdisc version of Polyester (1981)," notes the blog Baltimore or Less, who also point out "the 'No Smoking' clip has long been familiar to audiences at Baltimore’s Charles Theater where it frequently preceded feature film screenings and was a guaranteed laugh-getter."

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Other "art house" movie theaters were thought to have shown this PSA, and many of them likely went on to exist like the Nuart does as a venue for cult films and midnight showings, like the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," for which, for many years, attendees are also limited in what they can do during the show.

Ahh, the good old days. Alas, lovers of film and smoking need to contain their habit to the comfort of their own homes--well, unless your city has already outlawed that, too.