Cancer Victim, Famous Clevelander: Skip Smoking

CLEVELAND (AP) - Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who lost part of his larynx to cancer, appealed to college students to avoid smoking.

"I beg all of you here, you are bright and attractive -- don't smoke," the 57-year-old screenwriter of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" said Wednesday night at Cleveland State University.

Eszterhas, his wife, Naomi, and his surgeon and speech pathologist were guests of MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews," which was televised from campus.

Eszterhas, who grew up in Cleveland and started smoking at 12, has moved back to the area from Hollywood. He said he has stopped smoking and drinking since his cancer was diagnosed 1½ years ago.

Eszterhas, who has apologized for glamorizing cigarettes in his movies, said the film industry "is guilty of turning a moral blind eye to this subject.

"Anyone who would go through a cancer ward and sees what cancer does would never, ever think smoking was sexy."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)