PARIS - James Bond may have quit smoking 14 years ago, but he remains at high risk from the puffing habits of his many sexual partners, researchers warned Tuesday.
Delving into the British spy's on-screen smoking history, a team of public health researchers sought to highlight the tobacco hazards faced by the fictional action hero - and the real-life people he may have inspired.
Although he gave up the habit, 007 continued putting himself at risk by cavorting with smokers, the duo wrote in the journal Tobacco Control.
This "would have meant high levels of secondhand smoke exposure for Bond, especially with post-coital smoking, even to the point where one partner used an ashtray positioned on his naked chest," they said.
The risk was slightly offset, added the researchers, "by the typically brief nature of his relationships".
Though seemingly frivolous, the study does have a serious message about the behaviour-swaying power of film characters' lifestyle choices.
"While there are some favourable downward smoking-related trends in this movie series, the persistent smoking content remains problematic from a public health perspective, especially given the popularity of this movie series," said the team.
"Health workers may need to continue to advocate for reducing smoking in movies." The team observed that Bond smoked most in the 1960s - in five out of six movies that decade - and took his last puff in 2002 in the aptly titled "Die Another Day." Smoking-related gadgets, such as a rocket-in-a-cigarette device in one film, became fewer over time, and mentions of smoking risks more frequent.
But his sex partners often smoked, most recently in the 2012 film Skyfall.
Bond's smoking history, the team said, seemed at odds with the need for physical fitness to do his job.
"But it does fit with a possible perception of low life expectancy given a cumulative total of thousands of bullets being fired at him," they wrote.
"He also has a very high intake of martinis and other alcohol and often drives very fast." Talking of drink - another lifestyle risk for premature death - a 2015 study found that current 007 star Daniel Craig was the booziest Bond in the franchise's long history.
Craig had at that time drunk an average of 20 units of alcohol per film since his debut in 2006's "Casino Royale," according to the study by British food and drink trade magazine The Grocer.
That compared with an average 12 units for Pierce Brosnan, 11 units for Sean Connery and just four or five units per film for Timothy Dalton.