The list of actors and actresses using electronic cigarettes is getting longer. First their was Leonardo Dicaprio, then there was Katherine Heigl, then Johnny Depp in The Tourist, and now Twilight star Robert Pattinson has been caught vaping. Although not the first sighting, Robert was seen puffing away on his e-cig at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards. This is on top of the recent news that Saturday Night Live has included an e-cigarette in one of their skits, bringing even more exposure to the already growing e-cigarette industry.
The Good and the Bad:
The good news about celebrities using electronic cigarettes and shows and movies writing them into the scripts is exposure. It can be assumed that the more smokers who know all their options, the less smoking there will be in general. And like it or not, many individuals take notice more when their favorite celebrity does something than when they are introduced to the idea via ads or word of mouth.
The bad news is we can be sure that public health organizations who are heavily invested in promoting Nicotine Replacement Therapies sold by their sponsors, i.e. Pharmaceutical Companies, will also take notice. We look forward the upcoming press releases full of misinformation about electronic cigarettes encouraging the government to step in to make sure these e-smoking products aren’t used in public….or at all. What we don’t expect to see is the new study showing second hand vapor from e-cigs is not harmful to bystanders.
All-in-all, the more publicity the e-cigarette gets, the better off smokers will be. Public acceptance or at least tolerance is the first step to an effective tobacco harm reduction strategy for the betterment of public health.