Quotes from nearly 100 Hollywood celebrities tell their story of getting hooked on tobacco -- many being forced to smoke for movie roles -- and loathing or even loving their tobacco addictions in the new book, "Hollywood Speaks Out on Tobacco" by Curtis Mekemson, released today by Grassroots Solutions, Inc. ($7.95, available at grassroots-solutions).

Using the stars' own words, "Hollywood Speaks Out on Tobacco" provides a sometimes comical and oft-times dramatic look into Hollywood's addiction to tobacco products.

"I had to smoke for a role when I was 15, and it kind of stuck," says Eliza Dushku, who was raised a nonsmoking Mormon. She calls tobacco use for actors an "occupational hazard."

Johnny Depp wants to start his own airline called AirSmoke. "Smoking would be mandatory," he says.

Others quoted include Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Denzel Washington, Ashley Judd, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Neve Campbell, Usher, Salma Hayek and many others.

Mekemson hopes to persuade Hollywood to cut out tobacco use in movies geared toward youth. A Dartmouth University study reveals "half of smoking initiation can be attributed to exposure to smoking in movies." That's 1,070 U.S. youths beginning the habit each day as a result of smoking in the movies.

"Whether you are interested in discouraging young people from smoking, wish to provide a friend who smokes with a humorous reason not to, or are simply interested in another perspective on some of Hollywood's most famous personalities, the book is designed to provide the reader with a celebrity's perspective on the consequences of tobacco use," Mekemson said.

Mekemson, of Sacramento, created the Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! Project and the Hackademy Awards, and has worked with the entertainment industry, public health advocates and universities to quantify and address the issue of tobacco use in movies. Publication of the book was made possible by a gift from the AKT Communities Fund.

Grassroots Solutions, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of world public health through education, research and advocacy focusing on strategies developed by grassroots community action. For information, call 916-444-5913 or e-mail infograssroots-solutions.

Grassroots Solutions, Inc.

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