Picks and Pans Review: Larry Hagman's Stop Smoking for Life

updated 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Nowadays, anybody who uses tobacco knows that where there's smoke there's ire: The cigarette smoker is so widely despised that he might as well be consigned to that ridiculous wandering garbage scow that nobody wanted. So what's a poor slob to do? Quit, that's what. And here, just in the nicotine, comes actor Larry Hagman to lead the hapless addict back to self-worth and through the portals to a smoke-free society. First, the patient must deal with a certain credibility problem. This is J.R., remember—the conniving, lubricious Dallas oil baron who fairly salivates Texas crude; he cheats on his wife, blackmails his competitors, tries to foment a Middle East war and is not very nice to his mom. He isn't, in short, your ideal role model in the virtue department. Yet, astonishingly enough, virtue is what you get in this 60-minute tape. Here is a warm, sympathetic ex-smoker speaking to you from a Malibu pad, earnestly extolling the benefits of clean lungs, sweet breath and all the other blessings guaranteed to enhance your interpersonal Nielsens. Hagman's approach, worked out with the help of experts from UCLA, is based on the sensible tactics of behavioral psychology. You are admonished to analyze your smoking ways over a seven-day period and wean yourself from tobacco by keeping notes on why and when you light up. Put a rubber band around your cigarette pack to ward off the urge. Reinforce your small triumphs with rewards; phone a friend for support when temptation nudges; avoid oral substitutes; watch your diet; cut back on alcohol; drink a lot of water, and for Pete's sake shun those seductive smokers in your crowd. As Hagman readily concedes, there's no point in watching this tape unless you really want to quit. To be sure, a few episodes here will provoke second thoughts. For example, at tape's end, Larry, clad in a bizarre pop bathing costume, joins a battalion of other disgustingly clean-living folks to run down the beach, unaccountably waving flags; forming a circle, they proceed to deep-breathe the sea air in a joyful ritual that would seem peculiar even for the denizens of Malibu. It's enough to make you want to snap your rubber band. Buyers of this tape, incidentally, get a free gift: a handsome blue necktie (100 percent polyester) adorned with no-smoking symbols. This is useful, since, as will be acknowledged by anyone who has tried to stop, including this veteran quitter, withdrawal makes you fit to be tied. (Karl-Lorimar Video, $14.95)

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