As the previous posts discussed, most comic book publishers had banned tobacco advertisements in comic books since at least 1954. Tobacco companies similarly banned cigarette advertisements in comic books in 1964. The regulation of smoking depictions, however, does not have such a lengthy or substantial history. Campaigns against smoking depictions in comic books did not gain traction until the 1980s. The most significant was T. Casey Brennan’s campaign, which began by 1981. The first part of this post discusses T. Casey Brennan’s 1980s campaign against smoking depictions in comic books. The second part explores Marvel Comics’ and DC Comics’ anti-smoking efforts and regulations.
T. Casey Brennan’s Campaign Against Smoking Depictions in Comic Books
Senator Carl Levin introduced two articles into the 1982 Senate Congressional Record that discussed smoking depictions in comic books. Senator Levin advised his colleagues to “give careful thought” to the concepts provided by the articles’ author, T. Casey Brennan. In an article from 1981, Brennan, a freelance magazine writer and comic book writer, addressed the issue of what children may infer from seeing their favorite Marvel Comics and DC Comics characters using cigarettes. He asked whether the average young reader realized that a “cigarette is a bigger danger” to the hero than the villain, and whether the average comic book “writer, editor or artist strive always to protect the young from…casual portrayal of the use of cigarettes?” He answered with an emphatic, “No.” Brennan suggested that public outcry against depictions of tobacco use similar to the outcry against violence and horror in comic books in the 1950s may be necessary before comic book publishers “live up to their responsibility as the architects of young minds.”
In a 1982 article, Brennan acknowledged that, after his 1981 article, Marvel Comics took a stance against tobacco use. Dennis “Denny” O’Neil, then editor of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil (who also discussed in a prior post), stated in a letter to Smoke Signals, “Pro smoking? Hey, not us!” A 1982 issue of Daredevil takes a strong stance against smoking where the hero of the series advises a friend that smoking kills. Brennan asserted that, “We cannot feel that our work is complete until cigarettes, pipes, and cigars are never portrayed except in stories specifically designed to oppose and ridicule their use, as in this latest Daredevil story.” He makes a call to action at the end of the article, “The Daredevil story is not a war won, but a battle begun.”
Where did Brennan’s call to action leave comic book publishers in the battle against smoking depictions? Tobacco companies were concerned by Brennan’s advocacy and Senator Levin’s support, which is demonstrated in a Tobacco Institute Newsletter that highlights the possibility of congressional hearings on smoking depictions in comic books. Bill Clinton, future U.S. President and then Governor of Arkansas, honored Brennan with a proclamation that January of 1990 was “T. Casey Brennan Month” in Arkansas, citing Brennan’s “one-person crusade to change the comic book industry to de-glamorize smoking among young people.” The proclamation lauds Brennan for the positive effects of his campaign, including anti-smoking storylines in comic books and comic book characters forsaking smoking.
Paradoxically, Brennan has since revealed that his campaign against smoking in comic books was part of a personal vendetta against the comic book industry. He has stated in numerous interviews that he was “blacklisted” by the comic book industry, and the anti-smoking campaign was a publicity stunt to attack the industry. In one interview he stated
I used to say…I’d say I smoke myself but haven’t read a comic book in twenty years…Didn’t really give a damn about smoking or comic books either one, I cared about the fact that the comic book industry published me throughout the seventies and blocked me out of the field. So, I wanted to counter-attack, and that’s how I counter-attacked.
I contacted Brennan and asked him why he chose an anti-smoking campaign as a pretext to attack the comic book industry. He replied
I had a contact with an anti-smoking newsletter – in WASHINGTON DC! [original emphasis] I used that leverage to attack them in the Congressional Record, WORLD HEALTH, the DEMOCRATIC JOURNALIST etc. [original emphasis] If you check the newspaper comic sections from the 80s, I had a profound effect there! But I stayed blacklisted.”
Although Brennan’s campaign was a pretext to attack the comic book industry, it did have positive results by bringing attention to a very important issue. During and after Brennan’s campaign, Marvel Comics and DC Comics began to take anti-smoking stances through anti-smoking storylines and messages, which are discussed in the following section.
Marvel Comics’ and DC Comics’ Anti-Smoking Messages and Regulations
Marvel Comics and DC Comics have both released comic books with anti-smoking storylines, which I will call dedicated anti-smoking comic books. Both publishers have also published comic books that have anti-smoking messages within storylines that are not primarily anti-smoking. I will call these publications comic books with incidental anti-smoking messages. It is important to note that the anti-smoking content does, at times, offer confused messages about tobacco use. Marvel Comics’ and DC Comics’ dedicated anti-smoking comic books and incidental anti-smoking messages are discussed below. We will also look at Marvel Comics’ former Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada‘s attempt to regulate smoking depictions in Marvel’s publications.
Marvel Comics’ dedicated anti-smoking comic books
Marvel Comics has a history of addressing substance abuse within its comic books since at least the 1970s. In 1971, Marvel released three issues of The Amazing Spider-Man that had an anti-drug storyline. The Comics Code Authority did not approve the issues because of the depictions of illegal drug use, and Marvel published the issues without the Code’s authority or seal. In April of 1982, Marvel released an anti-smoking comic book with the American Cancer Society titled, Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man Battle Smoke Screen. The storyline centers on an all-star track athlete, Bret Jackson, who starts smoking cigarettes and neglects training for an upcoming race. Bret hangs out at a social club where he is given free cigarettes from a seedy adult. The adult works for a villain named Smokescreen, who wants Bret to lose the race so he can receive a large gambling payout. Superheroes Power Man, Spider-Man, and superheroine Storm foil Smokescreen’s plan, and talk about the dangers of smoking with Bret. Bret acknowledges the dangers of smoking, including cancer, shortness of breath, and an increased pulse rate. The comic book also features an activity at the end where the reader can write the dialogue for a character that is about to refuse a cigarette. The comic book has since been re-released on numerous occasions with small variations within the storyline.
Marvel Comics’ incidental anti-smoking messages
Marvel released many comic book issues that, although not strictly dedicated to an anti-smoking storyline, do have anti-smoking messages within the storyline. The 1982 Daredevil mentioned above contains a strong anti-smoking message throughout the comic book. The opening page shows Ben Ulrich, a journalist, walking into a theater smoking a cigarette, and the ticket-taker tells him “No smokin’.” Daredevil tells Ulrich, “Ben, you’ve got to stop smoking those cigarettes. They’ll kill you.” Two other characters also warn Ulrich about the dangers of smoking, with one commenting, “Bet your lungs look like something died in them.” Ulrich is seen running up a flight of stairs, and he can feel his lungs burn. He tells himself, “Lousy cigarettes. They’ll be the death of me.” At the end of the comic book, Ulrich’s smoker’s cough gives away his hiding place, and a villain kills him.
Marvel released an issue of The Uncanny X-Men in 1985 that has an anti-smoking message within its storyline. Wolverine, an X-Men, is seen smoking a cigar next to fellow X-Men Kitty Pryde. Pryde takes the cigar from Wolverine, who states, “Your funeral, pun’kin.” Pryde then puffs on the cigar, subsequently having a coughing fit and feeling sick. She asks him how he can stand smoking “that awful thing.” Wolverine replies by stating that his mutant “fast-healing” powers prevent any harm from smoking, although the same cannot be said for Pryde.
A previous The Uncanny X-Men issue featured a cover with Wolverine smoking what appears to be a cigarette while menacingly pointing his adamantium claws at a young girl held aloft with his other hand. The girl is superheroine Katie Power, part of the Power Pack, and she meets Wolverine within the issue when he is smoking a cigarette. Three years later, the Power Pack had an anti-smoking issue in 1988. The issue focused on Alex Power, a young superhero, as he questions why people would knowingly harm themselves. He is bothered that people would choose to smoke and risk cancer, including his friends. Alex tries to dissuade his friends from smoking by informing them about the dangers of smoking, which includes showing them pictures of smoker’s lung and telling them that each cigarette shortens a person’s lifespan by twelve minutes. His efforts fail, however, when another boy, Marty, calls him a “wimp” and tells him to leave. Alex’s friends eventually realize the dangers of smoking when they chase down a man that tried to kill them. The man dies of a heart attack with a cigarette in his mouth. Marty determines that the man must have died from smoking, and states to his friends, “You wanna be cool, or you wanna be dead?”
In 1990, Marvel released an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, which dealt with substance abuse. The storyline centers on a young hockey player, Alan, who is not performing up to his capabilities. Spider-Man sees Alan smoking and drinking beer, and Spider-Man, surprisingly, only attributes Alan’s poor performance to drinking beer. Spider-Man resists making an anti-drinking speech because, “these are the kinds of choices kids need to make for themselves.”  Spider-Man only decides to intervene when Alan is offered drugs. Spider-Man teaches Alan about substance abuse, stating that even alcohol is a drug, but he does not address cigarettes. This is surprising because the comic book’s cover prominently features a pack of cigarettes alongside bottles of beer, pills, marijuana cigarettes, and a syringe. Alan ultimately rejects a cigarette and beer from a friend at the end of the story.
A 1993 issue of Wolverine features a storyline where Wolverine loses his fast-healing ability due to nearly fatal injuries. While he is recovering from his injuries, Wolverine perfunctorily lights up and heavily puffs a cigar. He immediately has a coughing fit. He throws the cigar away and states, “Gack! Time I quit these nasty ol’ things anyway!” In the next issue, however, Wolverine smokes a cigarette after he states, “Maybe it’s time for me to do all those things that everybody else has been doin’.” The issue after that even features a graphic of Wolverine smoking on the cover.
Marvel Comics’ smoking depiction regulations
Marvel has specifically addressed the issue of smoking depictions and characters that smoke within its trading cards. In 1994, Marvel agreed to remove smoking depictions from its trading cards. The decision was spurred by a child’s letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, asking, “Why do they make cards for kids that show people smoking?” The child was inspired to write the letter by his father, a doctor, who got mad when he saw products that encouraged children to smoke. Marvel’s president, Terry Stewart, responded that characters smoked to lend credibility to the character. Stewart did not comment on whether the smoking ban would be extended to comic books, which, ultimately, it did not.
Fans were mindful of Marvel’s inconsistent stance on smoking depictions for trading cards and comic books. In a letter to the editor of Tobacco Control, Michael Lippman addressed Marvel’s decision not to remove smoking from its comic books. Lippman noted that adult characters in the X-Men series smoke and, more troubling, that teenage characters are depicted smoking. He stated that, “There is no reason that the heroes should be modeling dangerous, addictive behavior to project images of idealized rebellion.” He called on Marvel to change their comic books in addition to their cards, “They owe it to their loyal public.” The Tobacco Control editor responded to Lippman, stating that Marvel Entertainment is “owned by Ron Perelman, a cigar-smoking billionaire who also owns Consolidated Cigar Corporation,” and that Perelman had been featured in an issue of Cigar Aficionado.”
Marvel finally took a hard stance on the issue of smoking depictions in its comic books in 2001. Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada banned all of its heroes and heroines from smoking, except in its adult line of comic books called “Max Comics.” Villains were still allowed to smoke, but that was okay, according to Quesada, because, “villains are stupid.” Quesada’s decision was influenced by personal experience where his grandfather died of smoking-related emphysema and his father suffered a smoking-related collapsed lung. He stated that, “It’s a nasty habit that’s affected my life in a tragic way.” Quesada stated in a 2011 interview that the only time he ever took a “ham-fisted,” “It’s my way or the highway” stance as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief was on the smoking ban.
DC Comics’ dedicated anti-smoking comic books
DC Comics, like Marvel Comics, has a history with anti-drug messages. In 1983, DC Comics partnered with The President’s Drug Awareness Campaign to release three issues of The New Teen Titans with anti-drug messages. DC Comics also participated in campaigns that specifically addressed smoking. For instance, Superman was featured in a British Health Education Council anti-smoking campaign from 1980-82 where Superman fought a character called Nick O’Teen. Superman’s message was, “With my X-ray vision I can see the harm that cigarettes do inside people’s bodies. That’s why I don’t smoke.” Oddly, Superman was also featured on candy cigarette packs at the same time, to which a reader of Look and Learn children’s magazine addressed in a letter to the editor. The reader noticed the Superman anti-smoking advertisements in the children’s publication and wondered if there was a contradiction where Superman also promoted candy cigarettes. The editor replied, “The Health Education Council are aware of the sweet cigarette manufacturers who use Superman’s name. However, the Council will continue to use Superman as their hero, as he is often reprimanding others for smoking, and is totally against the habit.”
DC Comics’ incidental anti-smoking messages
DC Comics shifted its advertising focus in the late 1980s to reflect the increased adult readership. Twenty-five DC Comics titles had an average readership age of 24 in 1988. Although these readers were above the legal age to buy cigarettes, DC was mindful of its younger audience. Tobacco advertising was still prohibited because, according to DC president and publisher Jenette Kahn, “comics are still a kids’ medium and some [advertisements] are not appropriate.”
In 1991, Vertigo—DC Comics’ imprint for mature comic books that did not adhere to the Comics Code Authority—published a storyline featuring a chain-smoking anti-hero named John Constantine who develops terminal lung cancer. Constantine develops cancer from smoking twenty to thirty cigarettes a day since he was seventeen years old. He manages to cheat death by making deals with the devil and two other dark entities. After the devil cures his cancer and reconstructs his lungs, Constantine immediately lights a cigarette. The agony that Constantine suffers from lung cancer throughout the beginning of the storyline has no effect on his decision to smoke once the cancer is cured. Obviously, Constantine’s story arc does not send a strong anti-smoking message. There is, however, another character, Matt, who also suffers from lung cancer. Matt’s cancer is not cured, and he dies covered in his own blood and feces. John Constantine’s smoking habit is more recently addressed in a 2011 comic book featuring Batman and Constantine. Constantine lights up a cigarette in the Batmobile, and Batman literally kicks Constantine out while yelling, “No smoking in the vehicle!”
As discussed in a previous post, Batman featured a storyline in 1991 where Commissioner Jim Gordon has a heart attack caused by smoking. In issues leading to Gordon’s heart attack, he has trouble breathing and fails to apprehend criminals because he becomes out of breath. His chest feels as if it’s on fire during coughing fits, and he even passes out while smoking. A Public Service Announcement based on the storyline read, “Batman’s best friend isn’t on the streets tonight…A smoke would jump-start the day, help him get through a long night, mellow out the bad hours. Then one day all the pain in the world collected in his chest and squeezed.”
In 2000, Lois Lane dealt with the long-term effects of smoking in Superman and Batman. Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne (Batman) are both shown smoking in 1939. Only Lane, however, is shown smoking throughout the storyline. In 1949, she is shown smoking in front of her daughter. Lane gives her daughter a jewel to protect her daughter from developing superpowers, but Lane does not consider protecting her daughter from second-hand smoke. Lane eventually develops lung cancer in 1969. She readily accepts the fact that she may not have long to live, and even laments, “I should have learned a big lesson when those cigars finally killed your Uncle Perry.” Lane lives ten years longer, dying in 1979. She does not die from cancer, however, the villain Ultra-Humanite kills her.
Most recently, Superman discusses smoking with fellow superhero Flash in 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us. Superman wants to rid all the guns from Earth to prevent deaths, and Flash argues that such a move could cause people to resent and even “rise against” the superheroes. Flash presents a slippery slope argument where they might as well try to get rid of cigarettes because smoking kills more people than guns. Flash ultimately follows his slippery slope argument down to killing anyone who doesn’t recycle. Although the danger of cigarettes is uncontested, Flash essentially asserts that taking away cigarettes is too paternalistic.
Note on Citation
All citations to internal tobacco company documents are cited by Bates Numbers, which refer to the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu. Citations to comic books follow the following format: [writer] & [editor], [issue title], [volume number]:[issue number] [comic series title] [page number] ([publisher] [date of publication]).
 Senate Cong. Rec. S12,435, (daily ed. Sept. 28, 1982) (statement of Sen. Carl Levin). Bates No. TI04841329.
 T. Casey Brennan, Children May Learn Smoking By Seeing It In The Comics, Smoke Signals (Jan. 1981).
 Casey Brennan, Comic Book Heroes Edge Into No-Smoking Advice for Kids, Smoke Signals, (Feb. 1982).
 Frank Miller & Dennis O’Neil, Spiked!, 1:179 Daredevil (Marvel Comics Feb. 1992).
 Anon., Tobacco Institute Newsletter, Tobacco Institute, Jan. 10, 1984, at 8, Bates No. TI47470872-TI4747088.
 State of Arkansas Executive Department, Proclamation: T. Casey Brennan Month, (Dec. 22, 1989), http://www.entrecomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/clinton.jpg.
 Jon B. Cooke & T. Casey Brennan, T. Casey Brennan, in The Warren Companion 111 (Jon B, Cooke & David A. Roach ed., 2001); TT with HD: T Casey Brennan, Homeless Dave (April 7, 2006), http://homelessdave.com/tt20060407tcaseybrennan.htm (last accessed April 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm); Interview with T Casey Brennan (Part 1 of 4), Donnie Smooth Youtube Channel, (Uploaded Jan. 24, 2011) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq1SASQYFdI (last accessed Feb. 18, 1:26 pm). He is shown smoking in another interview. Conversations with T. Casey Brennan Starring Ashlee Lori Will #3, T. Casey Brennan Youtube Channel, (Uploaded Jan. 19, 2011) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q8XfZvRmOs#t=155 (last accessed Feb. 18, 4:44 pm).
 Facebook Chat Interview with T. Casey Brennan, Writer, (April 18, 2014).
 Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation 239 (2001).
 David Tata, Norman L. Dickey, & Stan Lee, Spider-Man, Storm and Cage Battle Smoke Screen, (Marvel Comics, 1982).
 Id. at 2.
 Id. at 7.
 Id. at 15.
 Id. at 16.
 The latest re-release in 2012 is part of a collection of Spider-Man issues that deal with substance abuse. Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man Battle Smokescreen, in The Amazing Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse 65 (Stan Lee, et. al., Marvel Comics 2012). A list of the re-released issues can be found at: http://www.comiccollectorlive.com/LiveData/StoryArc.aspx?id=58655663-d1f6-49e4-8ab1-7f3ab6ba26f7 (last visited April 13, 2014).
 Miller, supra note 7.
 Chris Claremont & Ann Nocenti, What Was That?!!, 1:196 The Uncanny X-Men 12 (Marvel Comics Aug. 1985).
 Chris Claremont & Ann Nocenti, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…!, 1:195 The Uncanny X-Men (Marvel Comics July 1985).
 Id. at 11.
 Steve Heyer & Carl Potts, Smokeout, Power Pack, 1:41 (Marvel Comics Nov. 1988).
 Id. at 9.
 Id. at 11.
 Id. at 12.
 Id. at 27.
 Dwayne McDuffie & Bob Budiansky, Skating on Thin Ice!, 1:1 The Amazing Spiderman (Marvel Comics Jan. 1990).
 Id. at 7.
 Id. at 8.
 Id. at 9.
 Id. at 11-12.
 Id. at cover page.
 Id. at 22.
 Larry Hama & Bob Harras, Nightmares Persist, 2:75 Wolverine (Marvel Comics Nov. 1993).
 Larry Hama & Bob Harras, Northern Dreams, 2:76 Wolverine 21-22 (Marvel Comics Dec. 1993)
 Larry Hama & Bob Harras, The Lady Strikes, 2:77 Wolverine (Marvel Comics Jan. 1994).
 Guns Don’t Kill People, Cigars Do, New York Times, May 29, 1994, at 11. Bates No. TI2709-06Q7.
 Jane Furse, Texas boy smokes out 2 comic book heroes, Daily News, May 5, 1994.
 Guns Don’t Kill, supra note 58.
 Furse, supra note 60.
 Michael Lippman, Smokers in Marvel Comics, 4:2 Tobacco Control 196, 196 (1995).
 Dareh Gregorian, X-Man Superhero Kicks Butt and Butts, The New York Post, Sept. 9, 2001, at 25.
 Ryan Penagos, Joe Quesada: Not Going Anywhere, Marvel News (Jan. 5. 2011), http://marvel.com/news/comics/2011/1/5/14939/joe_quesada_not_going_anywhere.
 Marv Wolfman & Dave Manak, The New Teen Titans Drug Awareness Give Away: Plague, 1 (D.C. Comics 1983); Marv Wolfman & Dave Manak, The New Teen Titans Drug Awareness Give Away: battle, 2 (D.C. Comics 1983); Marv Wolfman & Dave Manak, The New Teen Titans Drug Awareness Give Away: Problem Child, 3 (D.C. Comics 1983).
 Michael Jacob, Superman versus Nick O’Teen: a children’s anti-smoking campaign, 44:1 Health Education Journal 15 (1985).
 Id. at 15.
 Maureen Fermoy, Letter to the Editor, 1034 Look and Learn (IPC Magazines LTD, Jan. 2, 1982) at 3. (photographs of the candy cigarette box featuring Superman can be accessed at: http://collectingsuperman.com/?p=3182. (last viewed March 10, 2014)).
 Id. at 3.
 Randall Rothenberg, The media business: Advertising; D.C. Comics in New Push to Sell Space, New York Times, Dec. 22, 1988, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/12/22/business/the-media-business-advertising-dc-comics-in-new-push-to-sell-space.html (last visited April 13, 2014).
 Garth Ennis & Bob Kahan, Dangerous Habits, Hellblazer (DC Comics/Vertigo, 1994). (storyline originally appeared in single issues of Hellblazer #41-46 in 1991).
 Id. at 14, 77.
 Id. at 101-132.
 Id. at 133.
 Id. at 155, 158.
 Jonathan Vankin & Rex Ogle, The Search for Swamp Thing, 1 Brightest Day Aftermath (D.C. Comics June 22, 2011).
 Alan Grant & Dennis O’Neil, Night Monsters, 1:458 Batman 6 (DC Comics Jan. 1, 1991).
 Id. at 3, 11-15.
 The PSA ran in comic books including Roger Stern & Mike Carlin, Friends in Need, 1:673 Superman in Action Comics, (D.C. Comics Jan. 1992), and William Messner-Loebs & Dick Giordano, The Barry Allen Foundation, 2:58 Flash, (D.C. Comics Jan. 1992).
 John Byrne & Joey Cavalieri, Generations: An Imaginary Tale, Superman & Batman (DC Comics 2000).
 Id. at 12-13.
 Id. at 54.
 Id. at 63.
 Id. at 79.
 Id. at 80.
 Id. at 116.
 Tom Taylor & Jim Chadick, Chapter Twenty-Six, Injustice: Gods Among Us (D.C. Comics 2013).