November 24, 2003
Hello. Welcome to the Join Joe website. I've been in fights most of my life. I came to this great country as a refugee when I was six years old and had to fight my way past the older kids who were gathered around Nick's Diner so I could get to the bus stop. I had to fight the kids in high school who picked on the refugee kid wearing his Salvation Army clothes. When I got into journalism, I fought editors who wanted to change or edit my words - at the Ohio University Post, at The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and at Rolling Stone Magazine. When I got into screenwriting, I got into one fight after another with directors who wanted to change my scripts.
But now all of those fights have become relatively meaningless. This is the biggest fight of my life. I'm ready to take on Big Tobacco. My motive is honest, almost biblical: revenge. I got hooked on cigarettes when I was twelve, when I was a child, when I didn't know any better... and now I've got throat cancer. I maimed myself by smoking. But it was Big Tobacco that took advantage of a twelve-year-old boy and suckered him into doing it.
Please, join me in my vendetta. Help me by making it yours as well.
Help me get even with Big Tobacco - and begin by stopping smoking yourself. Don't let them kill you for the money you give them. They're no better than the street hood who will shoot you for the money in your pocket. So begin by stopping smoking... by refusing to give them your money.
I will do my best on this website to help you to quit smoking. I will talk to you and answer your questions and bring experts onto this website to help you as well.
We're also going to focus on how we can stop Hollywood from glamorizing smoking on the big screen. I've worked as a screenwriter for thirty years now. I know who in Hollywood cares about not influencing you to smoke... and I know who in Hollywood doesn't care whether you live or die. I'm not going to pussyfoot or tapdance around this issue with you. I'm going to name names: Why does Julia Roberts insist on smoking in so many movies when she knows she is a role model for young women? When she knows women's cancer rates are skyrocketing. Gwyneth Paltrow's father died of throat cancer - yet she has smoked in so many movies onscreen. Will she continue to? Is she going to contribute to others' throat cancers - even after her father died of the disease? And what about smiling aw-schucksing Brad Pitt? Is he just too dumb to understand the damage he's doing by smoking onscreen? Is he a boy-toy windup doll who lights up and kills people?
There is absolutely no doubt about the influence movie stars have on young people. A memo recovered years ago from a tobacco company executive said there was no better form of advertising as far as the tobacco companies were concerned than a cigarette in the hands of a movie star. An E-mail I got the other day from a smoker said he began smoking after he saw Bogart smoke in the movies. Another E-mail made the same point about James Bond. My neighborhood video store manager started smoking after seeing Robert Mitchum smoke. A young woman told me that after seeing Shirley MacLaine in Irma La Douce, she asked her mother to buy her candy cigarettes.
You and I will discuss options about how to deal with Hollywood. Should we organize a boycott of the movies of those actors who smoke onscreen? Should we bombard their publicists and/or their homes with E-mails and letters? Should we single out a movie in which smoking is rampant and picket it? I want to hear your ideas about what we can and should do. I know this about Hollywood: the more public pressure we put on Hollywood or on superstar actors, the better the chance that we won't see smoking onscreen. Their greatest concern is their image and how their image translates into dollars. If they become afraid that their image will be ruined and their bank accounts diminish, they're going to stop smoking onscreen.
We're also going to focus on the people running the tobacco companies. We're going to talk about who these people are, how much money they're making, and how they spend the money they make by murdering smokers. They are the war criminals of the 21st Century, their body count greater than any other Holocaust. We will expose and treat these people as war criminals - shedding as much light on them personally as legally possible.
The fight I am asking you to join me in is, ultimately not about revenge but about self-defense. We're fighting... not because I have cancer... but so that you... and millions of others like you... will not get cancer. We're fighting to stop them from killing us. We're fighting for our lives. Let's fight them as hard and as determinedly as we can... by stopping smoking and by doing whatever else we can do.
I'm asking you to help me and I'll do my best to help you.