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"I'm so sorry to trouble you--but tobacco is the one drug every doctor forbids his patients and prescribes for himself."
Dr. Wells, The Bat

If you're in a period piece, or a retro-future, or a pulp cyberpunk future, a crime-noir piece, or even an outdated Twenty Minutes Into the Future from a past decade, you might have to put up with the fact that everybody smokes.

Note that the extent to which smoking has been stigmatized varies from country to country, so this trope may still apply in modern media depending on country of origin.

Examples of Everybody Smokes include:

Anime & Manga

  • Smoking is really quite common in Japan, and so it is also quite common in anime. Having a character smoke (who is old enough to do so legally, obviously) says very little about them as a character, and background characters are fairly often seen with cigarettes as well.
  • Black Lagoon is a prime example of this, having most characters smoke at atleast one point of the series.
    • Rotton the Wizard is one of the non-smokers in the series. Being the smartest man in Roanapur in many ways, he'll probably live the longest.
  • Cowboy Bebop: In the future, everyone smokes IN SPACE!
    • Or, at least, they light a cigarette and are immediately told there's no smoking.
  • The Kildred from The Sky Crawlers all smoke, despite of the fact that they're all kids. Or maybe because of it, as they do not age and they keep "dying" and returning with new memories, so they don't really need to worry about something like lung cancer.
  • Baccano, but seeing as it's primarily set in 1930s America, this should come as no surprise...
  • In Virgin Love and its related stories all the businessmen smoke, likely due to stress. It seems to be how they get through the workday as no one smokes when they're feeling good.

Comic Books

  • In Transmetropolitan, even Spider's cat smokes. Justified in that cancer cures come in pill form.
  • In the Tintin series, pretty much everyone but the title character, and a couple of his close companions, smokes.
  • Sin City characters tend to smoke as per the series' Film Noir roots.


  • Most movies made before 1970.
    • As noted in Real Life below, Product Placement meant that smoking was actually more ubiquitous in films and TV series pre-1970 than in reality.
  • Alien: The crew smokes. In a spaceship. All-oxygen artificial atmosphere? Limited oxygen supply?
    • Unless the atmosphere was very low pressure (and generally unsuitable for long stays), it would have an Earthlike composition of mostly nitrogen with a smaller fraction (20% at 1 bar, somewhat more at lower pressures) of oxygen. Oxygen is actually toxic in high enough concentrations.
    • In Real Life at the time they still allowed smoking on aeroplanes (high-altitude, recycled air). There was even a smoking room on the Hindenburg! Sometimes culture overrides sense.
    • Right, but actually other way around. Modern air conditioning on an airplane would make cigarette smoke unnoticeable. Nowadays culture of health paranoia overrides sense, also until last year American sailors were allowed to smoke on submarines.

  • Bad Timing: There is not one single scene where someone isn't seen smoking, lighting, or stubbing out a cigarette. All three actions often appear within the same scenes. A case of Everybody Chain Smokes.
  • Brazil
  • Good Night and Good Luck
  • On the distant mining planet of Screamers, anti-radiation medication is delivered via red-colored cigarettes. When radiation levels get too high, an announcement instructs all personnel to smoke their "radiation reds"
  • Gattaca, in the retro future variant.
  • Jim Jarmusch's Coffee And Cigarettes, of course.
  • No one smokes in the film Thank You for Smoking, though Aaron Eckhart's character tries and fails a few times. Later he's nearly killed by being covered in nicotine patches. The trope is referenced when discussing a possible space movie that would try to make smoking appealing:

 Nick: But wouldn't [the cigarettes] blow up in an all-oxygen atmosphere?

Jeff: ... Probably. But, you know, it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue: "Thank god we invented the, you know, whatever device."

  • Nowhere Boy. Seems that every other scene pretty much every character has a ciggy hanging from their mouth.
  • Ghostbusters. In the commentary for the film, Ivan Reitman said that he had watched both Ghostbusters I and II back to back to jog some memories and was astounded that almost no one lit up in the second one.
  • In The Hairy Bird, even though smoking is said to be prohibited on school grounds, it's shown that even the headmistress, Miss McVane, smokes.
  • Stand by Me: All the main characters smoke, including the generally wholesome POV Character. They're twelve.


  • Robert Heinlein's 1941 serial/1958 novel Methuselah's Children is full of characters who smoke constantly. To make it worse, many of them are over a hundred years old. They're not some kind of immortals, protected from cancer, they're just naturally long-lived thanks to a long-running eugenics project. This was Ret Conned a few decades later in The Number of the Beast, where a character explains to visitors that they discovered an alternative to tobacco-based cigarettes which are non-addictive and non-cancerous.
  • Agatha Christie, oh so much. To the point where characters don't look down on other characters for not smoking...they look down on them for smoking different types of cigarette.
  • Seems you can't go anywhere in the world of Atlas Shrugged without finding some chain-smoking rich industrialists. The mystery behind a symbol on a cigarette box is even part of the plot.
    • Only the 'good' industrialists who succeed on talent. The 'bad' ones, who live off government favours and crony capitalism, don't smoke. Ayn Rand considered "fire at your fingertips" a positive symbol. In a real life Aesop, she developed lung cancer. See the Real Life section for more details.
  • In the Twenty Minutes Into the Future novel Ghost From The Grand Banks, one of the characters makes a living out of retroactively subverting this trope: his company digitally edits vintage films and TV programs, erasing any evidence of smoking from scenes, so they'll be marketable to post-tobacco audiences.
  • Isaac Asimov's stories often feel less dated than many other Golden Age science fiction tales, but the fact that everybody smokes like a chimney is a dead giveaway.
    • A possible lampshading is in The Robots of Dawn, a sequel written in the eighties, where Baley has quit smoking.
    • The End of Eternity, though, has a character who smokes cigarettes and complains that his habit is hardly ever practiced or approved of in the vast majority of the many centuries in the future. And it was published in 1955.
  • Most Golden Age mystery novels feature heroic smoking on the part of some characters, but the Ngaio Marsh Inspector Alleyn novels are in a league of their own. The only people not shown constantly smoking are the unsympathetic characters, and the general attitude to smoking is that it's a positive character trait.
  • Played for laughs in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in which Stacey Keach played the title character, who always dressed like a 1950's Private Detective in fedora and trenchcoat with a permanent cigarette in his mouth, despite living in the 1980's where everyone kept telling him to stop smoking.
  • In the Fuzzies trilogy, by H. Beam Piper, smoking is common. Alright, these were written before the act became stigmatized, and it ended up ensuring we got a plot point, but no lampshades are hung. On the other hand, the trilogy is mostly courtroom dramas in space; you wouldn't as much be hanging the lampshade as wearing it as a hat & doing a funny dance on the table in a short skirt. And only a short skirt & lampshade.
    • Actually, in pretty much every HBP story. And most everyone stops for cocktail hour.
      • This is particularly grating in Omnilingual, where the characters are excavating ancient Martian ruins ... in individually pressurised buildings.
  • Darkness Visible is fantasy, but it is set in 1895, so naturally this trope applies. Notably, the fact that Marsh has such a major smoking habit does double duty as a plot point and a clue to his sexual orientation.
  • The Day of the Triffids the main character dedicates a paragraph or two of narration to lighting up every two to three pages until about two-thirds of the way through the book, when the general lack of supplies means he probably ran out.
  • In the novels featuring the Russian Investigator Arkady Renko, beginning with Gorky Park, Renko laments that an enemy could just drop cigarettes on the U.S.S.R. rather then bombs to kill everyone off. Everyone drinks, too. This is probably Truth in Television.
  • Interesting variation in Tom Clancy's novels, particularly The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising. Many of the characters, including the series protagonist Jack Ryan, don't normally smoke. They start lighting up their cigarettes after the tension levels ratchet upward.
  • Richard Morgan's "Altered Carbon" subverts this trope. The genre is sci-fi detective noir where the main character is living in someone else's body. Although fulfilling many noir tropes, the main character is agitated to discover the body he is wearing is addicted to smoking. He spends most of the novel battling his addiction to cigarettes and only rarely embracing it.
  • Flip open a Philo Vance novel, and odds are Vance will either be lighting up a Regie cigarette or in the middle of smoking one. It's enough to make one wonder if author S S Van Dyne was getting a price break in recompense.

Live Action TV

  • Mad Men: Lampshaded by the DVD packaging which resembles a giant Zippo lighter.
    • Of course, it's not literally everyone. A few characters (Pete Campbell being the most notable) don't smoke. Word of God states that the non-smoking characters are the ones whose actors were never smokers in Real Life; even though the cigarettes are herbal, this is apparently important to them.
  • Max Headroom
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The episode Far Beyond The Stars is set in the 1950s, where everyone... well, I'm sure you can guess.
    • Same thing in the episode Little Green Men, Earth 1947. Once the story reaches Earth, it's a smoke-fest for the next 30 minutes. Every human who has more than 2 seconds of screen-time is seen smoking at least once. The trope is played straight, as part of a Take That at smoking. The Ferengi talk about how humans willfully ingest poison simply because it's addictive, and Quark even tells a General that Humans should stop smoking because it would kill them.
      • Quark also admires them for making so much money off an addictive but otherwise useless product.
        • One of the episodes writer's regretted how it came off, and said that if he had to do it over again, he would have Quark come back home with a craving for a cigarette.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series is somewhat notable for averting this. The network wanted to use this trope, but Gene Roddenberry refused.
  • Fitz Kreiner, from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, is from the 1960s. Naturally, he smokes. Also quite naturally, the Doctor and Fitz's more modern fellow companions hassle him about it, especially Sam. He falls Off the Wagon every time he quits, although in one book, he has Blood From the Mouth for no particular reason.
  • Life On Mars: Even at crime scenes and morgues. And in hospitals.
    • Weirdly, it was totally OK to smoke in hospitals in the UK back then - they even came round with a trolley selling them!
  • In Absolutely Fabulous, in part. While Edina and Patsy's frequent smoking in Saffron's own home would still be legal in the UK today, it stands out glaringly when Eddie, Patsy and Magda smoke inside the private hospital (which, as noted above, was commonplace in British hospitals until recently), with the nurse bringing a trolley of cigarettes for them to buy. That said, smoking would probably not be advisable for Patsy right before her elective facial surgery.
  • Teachers has many of the main cast smoking, not only at the pub but also illicitly in the school toilets and in maintenance areas of the school grounds. As with many of the above examples, even the legal smoking areas depicted stand out to UK viewers, who have been unable to smoke in workplaces and public buildings (including pubs) since 2006.
  • Battlestar Galactica (and not just cigarettes either)
    • Apparently Willie didn't listen to his Uncle Sam when he told him not to start smoking.
    • Speaking of which, here's a list of everyone of significance in Caprica who has smoked onscreen (off the top of my head): Joseph Adama. Samuel Adama. Amanda Graystone. Daniel Graystone. That Philomon guy. And Sister Clarice is known to frequent a Fantastic Opium Den. Hm. Looks like everyone who isn't in high school out of the main cast.
  • Most of the characters in Twin Peaks smoke, since it's a Fifties throwback.
  • Most of the people on Deadliest Catch smoke, and of the few who don't, most of those chew tobacco.
    • In the most recent season, one captain (Keith of the F/V Wizard) is trying to quit chewing tobacco at the guilt trip/urging of his daughter. And, while it's somewhat understandable people in a high-mortality profession like crab fishing view long-term risks like smoking differently, there's some indication Captain Sig of the Northwestern has changed his tune after Captain Phil of the Cornelia Marie suffers a pulmonary embolism one season, then a massive stroke and finally dies of a second embolism. Sig reacts to the news by throwing his pack of cigarettes across the wheelhouse.
  • Watch almost any cooking-based reality show that shows contestants during their breaks, and you'll see every single contestant smoking like a chimney. This is somewhat ironic, as pointed out by Gordon Ramsay (famous chef and host/judge of Hell's Kitchen). He does not smoke and has berated contestants for the habit, which deadens the sense of taste and actually makes them worse chefs than they would be otherwise.
  • It's pretty hard, if not impossible, to think of main character from Skins who doesn't smoke.
    • Jal in series 1/2, Katie in series 3/4. Though both succumbed to other drugs.
      • There's a scene in one episode where Katie has a drag of one of Effy's cigarettes.
  • Interestingly averted in MASH, where none of the main characters ever smokes, except for an occasional cigar. This is notable because the series was filmed during a time when smoking was common and takes place in a time before anyone thought smoking was bad for your health.
  • In UFO people even smoke on the moon.
  • Most of the main characters in new BBC series The Hour are smokers.
  • In the show Undercover Boss many of the workers and a few bosses smoke. The biggest example is when the boss buys an ashtray for a lady who goes into the parking garage to smoke and throws the cigarettes on the ground.
  • Hogan's Heroes didn't normally show people smoking, but it did have a running joke in the form of Hogan stealing Klink's cigars whenever his back was turned, as well as frequent attempts to bribe Schultz with cigarettes.
  • Danger 5 is a spoof of 1960s Thriller Spy Drama fiction, and consequently, literally everyone in each scene smokes. Played for Laughs, of course.



 My eyes burn, Everybody Smokes

My eyes burn, Everybody Smokes

I smoke, too, but not as much as you

I do the Smoke Detector.

    • Jenny Lewis specifically called this one an "anti-anti-smoking song." Make of that what you will.

Video Games

  • Grim Fandango, a Lucas Arts adventure game, is heavily influenced by film noir, and so everybody smokes like chimneys. The joke? It takes place in the Land of the Dead, so all the characters are already deceased. Walking, talking skeletons can't get lung cancer because they have no lungs.
  • In Starcraft it's ubiquitous. Among the Terrans, at least. Not sure the Protoss even breathe, but they don't have mouths.
  • Bioshock, being set in 1960. Although you rarely see another person smoking, there's plenty of boxes of Oxford Club and Nico Time lying around (that take away health but restore EVE).
  • The ad for truth serum cigarettes in the Team Fortress 2 Spy update claims, "There is no one who does not like to smoke." Appropriate, since the vague time period the game's set in most closely resembles The Fifties.
  • The Saboteur, despite its cartoonish Diesel Punk aspect, actually stays true to the period as far as this trope goes. The player can even tap a button to have Sean light up if he's standing around doing nothing.
  • Deus Ex: While you will not see anyone actually smoking, cigs are a relatively common find throughout the game, and there are usually cigarette vending machines in public. In a nightclub, one NPC will ask you for a light. JC can smoke as well, but at the cost of 10 health points to the torso, making it at full health, chain smoking 10 packs in a row will kill you.
    • The prequel, Deus Ex Human Revolution, plays this straight as well. Walk down the street of Detroit, or heck, even just step outside the Sarif Offices at the helipad, and you'll see all sorts of people smoking a cigarette. The player character, Adam Jensen is also a smoker as well, presumably to deal with the stress of becoming an augment. Of course, since he can get an aug upgrade that allows him to breath in visibly green toxic gas with no ill effects, cigarette smoke is probably of no concern to him.
    • The fan-made prequel 2027 also features this. Matches and cigarettes are a common find.
  • In LA Noire, pretty much every character smokes except the protagonist. If you stand around for too long, your partners will light up a cigarette.


  • Many characters in The Word Weary smoke (Harry the Hipster, Grace, John and Poor Trotmann) though it takes place in the present day. This is somewhat justified in that the main character works in a hookah lounge.

Western Animation

  • Although not in the show itself, The Flintstones did commercials extolling the great taste of Winstons.
  • An episode of The Cleveland Show had a flashback to America somewhere between the 20s and 40s. In the flashback literally everyone smoked, even a baby and a dog.
  • Take Up to Eleven in an Imagine Spot on Family Guy, about how people used to eat in the 40s.

 "What, do I look like I'm married? Of course I want cigarettes on my sandwich!"


Real Life

  • Any Hungarian movie. Seriously. We love our cigs.
    • France too.
    • In general, when Americans go to Europe they are surprised by the amount of smoking people do.
  • Though obviously not strictly true, within the USA, the West Coast has this impression of the rest of the country, and the rest of the country thinks this of the Southeast.
    • Except for San Francisco, to the extent that nearly the entire city smells like cigarette smoke (and beer, but that's a separate issue).
    • Tobacco is much cheaper in the states it's grown in, due mostly to subsidies and lower state taxes. This is still very true in New Orleans, which only relatively recently passed a law banning smoking in restaurants. Almost all restaurants have patio dining where smoking is permitted, and it's still legal in bars and establishments with a large percentage of alcohol sales.
  • The majority of Bosnians smoke and only a couple restaurants and bars are smoke free.
    • Pick up a couple random cigarette butts in tourist spots across Europe, chances at least one will have FDS (Sarajevo Tobacco Factory) written on it.
  • In Canada, smoking is thought to be more common among francophones and First Nations people, which is borne out by statistics.
  • Truth in Television: Everyone before the mid-1960's.
    • Due to Product Placement, there was even more smoking in movies and TV back then than there was in Real Life.
    • The 1920's through the 1960's were probably the Real Life zenith for this trope; before circa 1920, most men smoked pipes or cigars of various sizes and grades (or chewed tobacco), and it was considered highly unsuitable for women to smoke, particularly in public. Cigarettes really got going as a consumer item in the late 19th and early 20th century.
  • Japan.
    • On the other hand, the sheer crowdedness of the country makes smoking something of a difficult proposition (when the sidewalks are packed, holding a smoldering stick of tobacco is a serious public-health risk), and so David Sedaris actually went to Japan to help him quit smoking. It worked, and Sedaris recommends the method...if you're willing to pay for the flight and a few months' living expenses in Tokyo (not cheap).
    • It's not entirely clear why David Sedaris would have come to Japan to quit, since attitudes towards smoking are relatively in the dark ages compared to the U.S. and Europe — you're still allowed to smoke in restaurants and directly outside of buildings, if not inside them, cigarettes are relatively cheaper, and... to be honest, only some small parts of Tokyo are always that crowded, and while Tokyo may be the center of the universe, it isn't the entire universe. There are vast tracts of inaka here, usually translated as "the countryside" but more accurately rendered as "the middle of [expletive] nowhere" where you won't see another soul, let alone a bus, for hours on end. However...
    • Starting in 2008, the ubiquitous cigarette vending machines in Japan started requiring an ID card certifying the buyer as over 20 to vend, and this year a huge tax hike prompted droves of people to quit... and if the news reports are accurate, an unusually large percentage of the quitters have been successful so far. On the other hand, there were also news reports of people buying two months' salary worth of cigs in advance of the price hike, and cigarettes are still about a buck and a half to two dollars cheaper than in the States.
    • Tim Rogers, journalist for Kotaku, complains about smokers in Japan in a section of this article:

  "I suspect that the Pokemon "Koffing" isn't a symbol of the evils of pollution — he's Japan's Joe Camel, hooking kids on the power and might of smoke."

  • Most of the Middle East, where smoking is a status symbol (someone smoking cigarettes is more or less saying, "hey, look, I literally have money to burn!") and a cultural tradition (no cafe is complete without hookahs).
    • The very word "tobacco" (along with alcohol, in fact) has an Arabic root.
  • Almost all the higher-ups in Ayn Rand's Objectivist movement smoked, likely because Everybody Smokes in Atlas Shrugged. One character refers to the fire of a cigarette as the fire of the mind and of creative ideas. According to Murray Rothbard, a former Objectivist, non-smokers are generally looked down on by the Objectivist movement. What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?, indeed.
  • Smoking is extremely popular in Mainland China. One of the first things that you notice when you cross the border from Hong Kong into Shenzhen is the smell of cigarettes. However one curious thing about Hong Kong is that packs of cigarettes must by law have a rather graphic picture of the consequences of smoking.
    • This is true in many countries. It doesn't always help (Egypt also requires pictures--although they aren't always graphic, some are--but that's done nothing to reduce the smoking rate).
    • As a former newsagent's assistant, that's true - the pictures are also highly collectable.
    • Interestingly, while most men in China smoke, very few women do. As a result, Western women who do smoke can find themselves getting odd or disgusted looks from Chinese women when they light up.
  • This trope is exhibited in any look at a Veterans' Administration center or hospital. US Veterans have about 12% higher incidence of tobacco use than the rest of the country, but I suppose we're a dying breed.
  • Many tobacco companies were a big part of motor sports starting after tv advertising was banned. Since most of the drivers and crew chiefs smoked back then it was more acceptable then today.
    • In 1972 Winston cigarettes began sponsoring Nascar renaming it the Winston cup series.This ended in 2003 when Nextel took over.
    • Marlboro once was a big part in the indy car series. The sponsor is now only on a few cars for advertising bans.
  • The Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music scenes and the Visual Kei scene, at least up to a certain point in time. While now both have a fair percentage of nonsmokers and quitters, a walk down the Sunset Strip or a few minutes in the parking lot or outdoor backstage of some clubs in Los Angeles on a show night (since No Smoking indoors is the law there) or going to any club live in Japan, you will breathe in enough secondhand smoke to raise your cancer risk. And some Visual Kei rockers will still list their favorite brand in interviews...