The boys watch an incredibly lame anti-smoking assembly put on by a group called Butt Out, which ends with the group proclaiming, "If you don't smoke, you can grow up to be just like us!" Horrified at the prospect, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman immediately head outdoors to light up. When Mr. Mackey surprises them, they toss their cigarettes into a dumpster, causing a fire that burns down the school. Instead of blaming the kids, the angry parents blame the tobacco companies -- a view that the boys are happy to support.
Film director and smoking opponent Rob Reiner is called in to help stop the alleged spread of smoking among South Park's children. He preaches about the unhealthiness of the habit with the zealotry of an old-time prohibitionist -- all while guzzling cheeseburgers and other junk food. In fact, he's so obese that he has to butter himself up just to squeeze out of his own limo.
Cartman develops a severe case of hero worship for Reiner, but the other boys are suspicious -- especially when he tries to use them in his plan towards getting public smoking banned in Colorado.
To accomplish this, Reiner dresses as a woman (named "Rita Poon") and takes the boys on a tour of Big Tobacco Co., where he snaps a picture of the boys and then Photoshops cigarettes into their hands. But the smoking ban doesn't pass, and he is forced to take more severe measures.
Reiner asks if one of the boys would star in an anti-smoking commercial; Cartman immediately accepts. However, Cartman soon learns that his role in this commercial is lethal -- he's playing a victim of secondhand smoke that's dying of cancer. And, in order for the commercial to really work, Reiner says he has to die. The anti-smoking group tries to achieve this by giving him a poison cupcake.
Cartman escapes and, along with the other boys, takes sanctuary in the tobacco factory. Soon it's surrounded by angry, torch-wielding citizens. Reiner inadvertently reveals his murderous intentions, turning the locals against him. When Cartman stabs him with a fork, massive amounts of "goo" pour out of the wound, killing Reiner. The boys admit they smoked of their own free will, and are finally grounded for burning down the school.
What I Learned Today
"You just hate smoking, so you use all your money and power to force others to think like you. And that's called fascism, you tubby asshole!"
- "If you don't smoke, you can grow up to be just like us!" Butt Out! group
- "This seems like another one of those times when things are going to get way out of hand, you know? It's been happening a lot lately." Kyle
- "For two billion dollars I'd handle my grandpa's balls, sir." Cartman
- "That's nones the cool!" Butt Out! group
- "Smoking's bad, mkay." Mr. Mackey
- "BUTTER! BUTTER!" Rob Reiner
- "Oh my God! What kind of backward, hick state is this?!" Rob Reiner
- "Dude, he just goes around imposing his will on people. He's my idol." Cartman
- "Wow, it's like, smoking brings a lot of people just a little bit of joy -- and you get to take that away from them. You are so awesome." Cartman
- "I just know where this is heading. It's gonna end up with the whole town taking this too far, and us having to talk about what we learned to change everyone's minds, and I say we just stop it RIGHT NOW and go play cards or something." Kyle
- "Oh, I get it, Kyle. That's your Serbian Jew Double Bluff." Cartman
- "My goo! My precious goo!" Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner, and his team of anti-smoking henchmen (aka the Smoke Stoppers).
Rob Reiner, who we learn is made entirely of goo. Plus, a Big Tobacco worker who's thrown over the railing during Reiner's escape from the cigarette factory.
The motivational group Butt Out sings "Butt Out," as well as the beat-boxing rap breakdown. Also, the Willy Wonka-esque "Cigarette Song" is performed wonderfully by the entire staff of Big Tobacco Co.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
Matt and Trey were severely irritated by Reiner's crusade for stricter public smoking laws in California. Ironically, Trey says that the Reiner classic This Is Spinal Tap had a huge influence on him.
Pop Culture References
Cartman's commercial, in which he says he got terminal cancer from secondhand smoke, is a parody of an advertisement Yul Brynner did years ago. Also, the tobacco factory workers sing and dance like the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Rob Reiner is portrayed as an overweight hypocrite, preaching about the dangers of secondhand smoke while stuffing himself with fatty, fried foods.
Reiner's plan to sneak into a cigarette factory, photograph the boys there, then Photoshop cigarettes into their hands follows the elaborate hoaxing formula used in the MTV show Punk'd. In fact, just before he flees after taking the picture, he shouts, "You've just been Reiner'd!"
Throughout the episode, Kyle is very self-aware of the familiar story arc that's unfolding, saying "This is all following a formula!" Right from the beginning, he suggests that the boys just come clean and admit their guilt -- instead of letting things getting way out of hand and then having to fix the problem by convincing the town what they learned. At the end of the show, Stan even says to Kyle, "Well, I guess we learned our lesson." To which Kyle replies, "No we didn't, dude. No we didn't."