Tell All The Kids: Santa Has Quit Smoking
Children's Icons Shouldn't Be Promoting Deadly Habits Such as Smoking
Toddlers' perceptions of Santa are very important and can have a very long term influence, says Banzhaf, noting the outrage triggered by a billboard showing the jolly one puffing away on an e-cigarette, the major controversy over a news anchor's claim that Santa is white, or the great consternation which occurs whenever a mall Santa is seen by youngsters smoking during a break.
"Long before they can articulate it - or in some cases before they can even talk - children see an idol their parents lavish with praise, with a pipe in his mouth, and draw the obvious conclusion that smoking is OK," says Banzhaf, noting that the attitudes of millions of children towards smoking were influenced by candy cigarettes, and by pictures of rugged cowboys smoking Marlboro cigarettes, sophisticated women smoking Virginia Slims, and happy young couples smoking together on clean white sandy beaches.
"That's why I'm working so hard to get Frosty the Snowman to give up his corncob pipe. Frosty says to tell the children they should never start smoking, because it is so very difficult to quit," reports Banzhaf.
In 1996, Banzhaf wrote a letter to Santa, modeled on a similar letter sent to Jack Elrod, the creator of the cartoon character "Mark Trail."
Just as that earlier letter persuaded Trail to promise his readers that he will never smoke again, Santa responded to Banzhaf, explaining that to protect his own health, as well as the health of Mrs. Claus and the elves, he like Mark had given up his pipe.
Santa also urged parents to follow his own example and quit for their own health, or at least not to smoke within a home where there are children.
Banzhaf has been called "Mr. AntiSmoking,"
Interestingly, even by those who strongly oppose his antismoking activities, Banzhaf is credited with helping Santa to quit. http://bit.ly/