LONDON – From Sean Connery in Never Say Never to Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee, actors lit up on screen because of collusion between Hollywood and the tobacco industry, researchers allege.

Even Betty Boop, the wide-eyed cartoon character, promoted smoking by selling cigarettes in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

“The tobacco industry understood the value of placing and encouraging tobacco use in films and how to do it,” said Dr. Staley Glantz, of the University of California in San Francisco.

The tobacco industry claims it has ended the practice but Glantz said smoking in motion pictures had increased throughout the 1990s.

“Until something is done to reduce and eliminate pro-tobacco images on film, motion pictures will remain one of the most powerful forces in the world promoting tobacco and serving the tobacco industry’s financial interest,” said Glantz.

In an analysis of previously secret industry documents made available on the Internet, Glantz said he has found evidence of a long and deep relationship between tobacco giants and Hollywood.

It includes placing tobacco products in movies and television shows, encouraging actors and celebrities to use the products and sponsoring entertainment events.

The research, reported in the journal Tobacco Control, provides information on how tobacco companies worked to maximize their product exposure on the big screen.

It claims tobacco giant Philip Morris placed its products in more than 191 movies between 1978 and 1988, including Grease, Crocodile Dundee, Die Hard and Field of Dreams, according to Glantz’s report.

Glantz quoted a 1989 Philip Morris marketing plan as saying, “We believe that most of the strong, positive images for cigarettes and smoking are created by cinema and television.”

Remi Calvet, spokesman for Philip Morris International said product placement contradicted the company’s marketing policy.

“It is possible things have occurred in the past but we are talking about history now,” he added.

Glantz said Hollywood executives and film stars had received free samples or lucrative fees to exclusively smoke or promote certain brands.

According to the report, funding from the tobacco industry was withdrawn if cigarettes were not shown in a positive way.

“The increase in tobacco use and the continuing appearance of specific brands in movies since 1990 may reflect continuing activities by the tobacco industry, despite the industry’s voluntary restrictions on such practices,” Glantz added in the report.