The virtues of environmentalism, humanitarianism and alternative health maintained their popularity among celebrities for decades. This is likely be attributed to the fact that wealth and success allows for magnanimity and largesse. It also breeds the desire of venturesome philanthropic pursuits, as I imagine we would all like a more meaningful and substantial self-assessment than “I am an entertainer”.
Celebrities gave rise to the popularity of veganism, yoga and even Scientology in media not necessarily by formal endorsement campaigns, but simply through their own practices in daily life. At the same time, there are very few celebrity crusades as well-known as their remedial emprise against smoking. This has mostly been an enterprise of some futility, ending in stalemates due to the establishment and influence of the tobacco industry. Celebrity success was mostly limited to raising awareness of the health risks of smoking until the advent of e-cigarettes and vape pens.
Iconic anti-smoking imagery has appeared in almost every form of media imaginable including the internet, comic books and television.
With the entry of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (or ENDS) into the mainstream, celebrities were able to promote their popularity with candid coverage of their own usage of vape pens on magazines and social media; much the same way they have with hoverboards, for instance. Except unlike hoverboards, quality regulated and modified vape pens are well within reach even on a modest budget. Kangertech’s Subox Mini is only $49.95 when shopping at online stores, and is wildly popular among consumers.
This, paired with the generally positive reception of the pro-health, anti-smoking efforts in popular culture have afforded vaping an easy in among audiences across the world as a welcome alternative. Among the big names in film and television it is no different, with celebrity smokers welcoming what was widely perceived as a healthier and stylish avenue either to kicking the habit or consuming their nicotine without billowing second-hand smoke.
Throughout the past two decades there were efforts in popular culture at highlighting or chronicling the harmful effects of tobacco smoking pointed to the addictive nature of cigarettes. The tobacco industries’ appearance in the courts against regulatory legislation were in the films, and the most famous was Michael Mann’s The Insider (1995), as well as satires like Jason Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking (2005) and documentaries like Kevin Rafferty’s The Last Cigarette (1999). Rob Reiner and Michael Moore are examples of celebrities that have been particularly outspoken against the tobacco industry, going so far as to partake in campaigns and non-profit initiatives as guest speakers and donors.
There hasn’t been nearly as much of a unified effort and subsequent stigma against vaping among celebrities and in the media. Likely this is because of a number of studies pointing to the use of ecigs as a much more safe and discreet form of nicotine consumption. We’ve seen vociferous dismissals of cigarette smoking as a dangerous and an inconsiderate habit for oneself and the public. Candid images of vaping celebrities are seen as a welcome and commendable phenomenon.
Celebrity vaping seems to be met with admiration and excitement particularly among youth and young adults.
In the end, it’s safe to say that it is a good thing luminaries and laymen alike who are in a position to be spokespersons, ambassadors or role models do make an effort to spread positive health influence. Over the years more and more celebrities are making the transition to e-cigarettes, with some going on to invest in their favorite companies. There was more than enough consensus that glamorizing the consumption of nicotine in any way, shape, or form could be harmful, particularly to minors, considering there was an absence of minimum age laws until recent ENDS regulation. Others oppose vaping regulations, positing that anything that helps reduce or eventually eliminate smoking is good for society.
It seems the use of e-cigarettes and vaping will have a an uphill battle in any social sphere, with only time and research offering the possibility of a vinication from their constant comparison to conventional cigarette smoking.
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