HBO Max Removes Cigarettes from Select Movie Posters

By Jessica Lerner 

HBO Max has quietly removed another thing from its streaming library: cigarettes from several movie posters it displays on the service.

Twitter users first noticed the missing smokes in movie posters for McCabe & Mrs. Miller and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. In the posters, Paul Newman and Warren Beatty appear to be gesturing in the edited posters since they no longer have cigarettes between their fingers, per Vulture.

In addition, the streamer has taken the cigarettes out of Kirk Douglas’ and Michelle Reis’ characters from the posters for There Was a Crooked Man… and Fallen Angels, respectively, the news outlet reported.


However, not all movie posters have been edited, which makes this more confusing than anything else.

Jack Nicholson is still holding a cigarette in the poster for The Two Jakes and a cigar for The Last Detail, and cigarettes and pipes hang from the mouths of people in the posters for The Nitwits, A Story of Floating Weeds, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. And in the poster for the HBO-produced film The Many Saints of Newark, Alessandro Nivola can be seen puffing up a cigarette, according to Vulture.

HBO Max’s efforts may be a preemptive measure.

Earlier this year, U.S. politicians asked Netflix to limit young people’s exposure to smoking and vaping material in its content.

Per a report from the Truth Initiative, a public health nonprofit group, Netflix has presented more representations of smoking or vaping in series geared at young people in the previous four years than any other channel. According to the research, two Netflix programs, The Queen’s Gambit and The Umbrella Academy, both had more than 200 instances of smoking or vaping in their 2020 seasons.

In response to past complaints, Netflix committed in 2019 to reduce smoking representations and eliminate them completely in programming geared towards younger audiences. Since then, many Netflix shows have increased the number of episodes featuring cigarette imagery, the politicians noted.

Understandably, HBO Max has not publicized this move. The streamer has had a rough few months, to say the least.

Warner Bros. Discovery came under fire for the cancelations of the nearly-completed $90 million feature film Batgirl, set to be released theatrically and on HBO, and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, a follow-up to 2020’s Scoob. The streamer then received further criticism for removing multiple shows and movies from its streaming library, including 20 HBO Max Originals. More cuts may be coming as the company plans to merge its two streaming services—HBO Max and Discovery+—by the summer of 2023.