Smoking killed Princess Leia

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Stan Glantz, PhD, as featured in
the 2014 documentary movie
Merchants of Doubt

Stanton “Stan” Glantz, PhD, a professor at UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, CA, has been a tireless campaigner for smoke-free air for decades, and bitter opponent of the tobacco industry. His interests more recently include smoking in movies, identified as encouraging smoking initiation.


Dr. Stuart Kreisman

In a  January 5th, 2017, e-mail from Stan Glantz to his list he applauds Stuart H. Kriesman, MD, on the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, for an excellent just-published opinion piece titled:
Princess Leia ultimately killed by the real Darth Vader

Dr. Kreisman begins by reminding us of why smoking continues to be such a major health problem, “accounting for 10% of all Canadian deaths, and kills more people than alcohol, drugs, car accidents, murder, suicide, and AIDS combined.” He notes how the tobacco industry has reacted to the need to find new customers, focusing its efforts on addicting teens, with movies being “one of the main legal avenues remaining for the industry to (indirectly) market to children.”


Carrie Fisher in Star Wars

He adds: “Numerous studies have shown that smoking in movies makes teens more likely to try smoking,” accounting for nearly 40% of youth smoking initiation.

Dr. Kriesman notes that Carrie Fisher was a lifelong smoker. “She had also fought mental health and addiction battles, smoking prevalence being disproportionately elevated in both of these groups.” He concludes that smoking was likely the cause of her death on December 27, 2016, at age 60 from a sudden heart attack.

(Stan Glantz notes that “Most people don’t know that smoking causes heart attacks.” There was no such connection made in news reports I saw or read in the case of Carrie Fisher. However, a Google search of “Carrie Fisher’s heart attack due to smoking” did include such mention in a USA Today article, which added that “diabetes, lack of exercise and obesity are more potent risks in women.”)

Dr. Kriesman’s OpEd suggests many opportunities for action against the tobacco industry, such as increasing the age limit for tobacco product purchases to 21. This is something which St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page, M.D. successfully accomplished in September 2016, with bipartisan support. That was followed shortly afterwards by the City of St. Louis approving a similar bill sponsored by Alderwoman Dionne Flowers.


Actress Debbie Reynolds with daughter Carrie Fisher. Ms Reynolds died from a stroke the day after her daughter’s death, attributed to grief.

Dr. Kriesman’s OpEd concludes:
“Most importantly, recruit Hollywood’s help and take control of smoking’s image — show that it truly is not cool, but instead, a never-ending beauty-and-health-destroying, poverty-inducing, pathophysiological battle against nicotine withdrawal that mostly traps society’s weakest (and least enviable) members.

Maybe Princess Leia can help us defeat true organized evil after all.

Stan Glantz features Dr. Kriesman’s blog on the Smoke Free Movies blog at and @SmokeFreeMovies and @ProfGlantz.

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