Family Movies News

TFIOS: When Cigarettes Look Smokin' Hot, Will Kids Get the Real Message?

In one of the big triumphs for families and the medical community, smoking practically is banned from movies. Oh sure, you’ve got your historical smoking – I mean, it would be inaccurate to show Nazi Germany in The Book Thief without seeing older characters lighting up. And then, there’s cigar-chomping Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past, who is also a product of another era. But mostly, smoking is off the table.

And then, The Fault in Our Stars puts cigarettes squarely back on the lips of teens. A character trait of lead character 18-year-old Augustus Waters, a cancer patient in remission, is that he always has a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. Unlit.

The teen film, which carries such a phenomenal message about living life, gives a starring role to something that causes death. I don’t mean cancer EXACTLY, although cancer is just as much a character in the film as Hazel or Augustus. I mean the actual cancer sticks, themselves.

In the book’s oft-quoted line, Augustus explains of his cigarette habit, “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Beautiful, except for we parents have to wonder, will our teens and tweens receive the message they should not smoke? Or, will the cool factor of hunky Ansel Elgort, who plays Augustus, wearing a cigarette inspire kids to try it for themselves? After all, nothing makes an activity more aspirational than if a popular, charismatic actor makes it look, well, smoking hot.

Watch him explain it to Shailene Woodley's Helen Grace in this clip:

Here are three more movies to see with your family this weekend:

Edge of Tomorrow. Teen boys, get ready to have your mind blown. This Tom Cruise movie is the sci-fi Groundhog Day, but during a dystopian war against aliens.

Maleficent. So, your daughter is not yet ready for TFIOS? Maleficent is a perfect mother-daughter movie, exploring the different meanings of love while also delivering a cautionary tale about revenge.

Blended. Puberty is the most awkward of life stages; it makes ideal fodder for comedy, especially in the hands of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, who are in over their heads as single parents of children of the opposite gender.

Read Tara’s parent movie reviews of these films at and what kids think at

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