When did smoking become such a no-no on American TV?

Sure. What I mean if that, even then, there was nothing casual about it: cigarettes were props, used to create a certain atmosphere… what you would rarely see is a main character smoking just because, like most of the actors would actually do in their real lives.

Hey, remember when Kramer was the Marlboro Man?

And in the episode where he tried to feed Bruce Wayne into a blast furnace, it was revealed that Bruce carried a butane cigarette lighter just like his. (Bruce tossed it into the fire and it blew up the furnace; I think that was actually the first episode to feature the Penguin.)

I would have to watch the old series (and movies) again to be sure, but I think Bruce may also have been shown smoking at a cocktail party or something. (I remember that in the old comics, he smoked a pipe.)

Another weird TV moment came on The New Avengers when Steed was saved from a bullet by a silver cigarette case in his breast pocket. Pulling it out to show Purdey and Gambit, he’s heard in a post-production voiceover to say “I don’t smoke, but I carry them for friends who do.” Oddly enough, he was never shown smoking in the original series, at least not that I can remember. (Maybe he did in some of the lost episodes with Ian Hendry.)

FWIW, I remember a big change starting around 1968. On shows like Combat! and 12 O’Clock High, which finished their runs in 1967, almost everybody smoked. The first couple of years Mission: Impossible was on (1966-67), Dan, Jim, Rollin, Cinnamon, and a lot of the bad guys smoked. Even Larry Hagman and Dick York smoked on I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, respectively.

Hawaii Five-O came on in 1968. Not once do I remember McGarrett et al. smoking a cigarette, though an occasional bad guy might have. On Cimmaron Strip (1969), I remember Stuart Whitman rolling his own in one episode, and even that was out of character (of course, it could have been a joint; who knows?)

Columbo (again, debuted in 1968) was rarely shown smoking; usually his cigar was out. The first few years Dallas was on (1978–81), Jock would have to hide from Miss Ellie when he wanted to sneak a smoke. Nobody else on the show ever smoked that I can recall (and by that time, Larry Hagman was strongly anti-smoking).

There are probably lots of other examples I could cite, but smoking had definitely became a big no-no by 1970 at the latest.

Early episodes of Married With Children had Peg smoking, though that was pretty much gone by the third season or so.

The networks commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK with a bunch of specials and documentaries. I thought it was so odd to see the newscasters smoking on-air during the live feeds. Even Walter Cronkite.

While it’s not on TV (yet) I found it amusing that the movie *Monuments Men *was rated PG-13, in part, for “historical smoking.”

The other day, I read that Kojack sucked Tootsie Pops because Telly Savalas was trying to quit smoking at the time!

Denis Leary’s Rescue Me (2004-2011 on FX) had a lot of smoking (and drinking) by characters, story-wise, due to the stress of the job, a ‘cool factor’ with the teen kids, and Leary smoked because, well, he smokes in real life.

On Miami Vice, Don Johnson’s character quit smoking as he was quitting IRL.

Watch any movie from the 40s and the smoke is so thick you wonder how they kept the lenses clean.

And yet this thread is filled with plenty of examples that are much later than 1970.

For those of you who have the Game Show Network (sadly our cable company cut it a long time ago), watch reruns of old game shows, especially Match Game, plenty of smoking on those.

Watch some Perry Mason. I think everyone on that show smoked like a chimney, except Della.

James Garner and Jim Rockford quit simultaneously, as well, I believe.

Shows that are aimed at a particular audience or on certain networks, yeah. Very few prime-time shows on the three big US networks (four, if you include Fox).

I’ve noticed there now seems to be a gradual trend back to showing smokers in some mainstream genres. Even so, shows like Mad Men get around antismoking laws with things like clove cigarettes. Smoke can also be added with CGI in post-production, so the actors are technically not smoking.

The smoking on* Perry Mason *declined in the last few seasons.

Smoking on late-night TV also lasted well into the '70s, at least. Watch this clip from 1976:

It gets me how natural it all seems to have lit cigarettes billowing smoke while they sit and talk, almost like they couldn’t get by without them (which was probably the case).

OK, so when did Johnny quit smoking or have smoking guests? I don’t remember Letterman ever having smoking on the show, but I do distinctly remember him quickly puffing as the cameras came back from break. Once, he even waved off the camera for a second and it cut to Paul playing the music.

Anyway, when did Johnny stop having smoking on his show/set?

Long after the 40’s, we banned smoking in the electronic development labs at Litton Guidance (80’s) after we found giant particles of smoke (as seen on microscopes) on 8" floppy disks for our computers. It explained the excessive failure rate.

I know that Jackie Gleason was smoking on “Tonight” a year or two before he died in 1987.

The only smoking I remember on Letterman was when they were coming back from breaks, including Letterman himself putting away his cigar, but also in the 1980s.

my very favorite ‘old movie smoking scene’ is from Dark Victory. Bette Davis is in the hospital the night before she’s supposed to have risky surgery to remove a brain tumor, and is (understandably) quite nervous. Her doctor gives her a cigarette to calm her nerves, and lights it for her!!! (Her doctor is also her beau too, but that’s another story.)