Last month we received proof that e-cigarettes have reached a new level of familiarity, and even fame. With the Golden Globes serving as the stage, electronic cigarettes found their way into the national discussion once again as former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus showed some real swagger while puffing on an e-cig. Some might even say she looked boss with her “mad vaping skillz” or whatever the kids are calling it these days. That’s just the point too. With electronic cigarettes reaching new levels of familiarity, we’ll need, and we’ll naturally see, a new set of terms entering the national vocabulary.
This wasn’t just about a star using a cool piece of technology for a bit, this was a litmus test for how far the industry has really come. Lets take a step back first, for those of you who might have missed it. The 71st annual Golden Globe Awards took place last month and featured co-host comediennes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Not surprisingly, the two unleashed their trademark tongue-in-cheek humor in the opening monologue.
What did come as a surprise to us e-cigarette aficionados was the use of what appears to be a Blu electronic cigarette by Louis-Dreyfus at the 4-minute mark of the show. Whether it was a prop or if Julia is an electronic cigarette user herself wasn’t immediately clear, but she sure did look cool and comfortable with it. The joke was meant to play up Julia as being too cool for her TV actor peers, and in doing so she channeled the old Hollywood image of stars donning sunglasses and smoking away on their cigarettes or cigars.
What makes all of this interesting for us here at ECCR isn’t the fact that we have a celebrity using an electronic cigarette, because that has been documented plenty already. We’re used to seeing e-cigarettes attached to celebs, from Leonardo Dicaprio puffing on a Green Smoke to Simon Cowell quitting smoking with the help of e-cigs. So what’s really the big deal about yet another star picking up an e-cig for a drag?
The answer is two-fold:
1. The level of familiarity of the public with these devices became all too obvious. For those of us who have followed the electronic cigarette industry from its infancy, this was a milestone. Countless times have we had to explain and re-explain what an electronic cigarette is, usually to quizzical if not skeptical looks. Most people really had no idea what an e-cig was for so long that it seemed like an uphill battle to get the word out on what we think is a phenomenal device. Yet here it was being used to play a crucial role in a popular culture joke. The headlines the next day weren’t asking what that cigarette look-a-like device was, because most people already knew. Nobody so much as batted an eyelash at the idea of an electronic cigarette. Mainstream recognition of e-cigarettes is here, which can only further the e-cig revolution.
2. It re-ignited the idea that electronic cigarettes will make smoking cool again. This one is a lot more complicated and controversial than the first and could ultimately serve to weigh the industry down. It is one of the points opponents of electronic cigarettes love to bring up. The logic is simple: smoking is on the decline, but e-cigarettes will serve to make smoking fashionable and cool again at the very moment when we are winning the war against tobacco. This argument sure does sound valid; if you don’t let a silly little thing called facts get in the way. The facts are that smoking rates have remained stagnant for over a decade despite huge efforts and big budgets to nudge those figures downward. Even with years of lowered smoking rates, we are still left with 42 million Americans currently smoking and exposed to all the dangers of combustible tobacco. Let me get this straight, we are going to de-legitimize a device that can help 42 million Americans because it might popularize a habit that has already bottomed out over the past decade? That doesn’t sound too logical to us over here at ECCR.
Maybe we shouldn’t begin to insert logic into this argument however. Senators Durbin, Blumenthal, Brown, and Markey certainly didn’t when they railed against the glamorization of e-cigarettes in a joint letter written soon after the awards show aired. Nobody here is trying to glamorize smoking, but villainizing e-cigarettes won’t make a drop of difference to the youth who see smoking as a way to rebel. All it will do is keep these incredible devices on the sidelines when millions could have their lives changed if they only knew more about the benefits of electronic cigarettes.
Its doubtful Julia Louise-Dreyfus had any idea of the ruckus that would be caused when she played along with the joke and took a quick puff on an electronic cigarette. It is even less likely she could have foreseen how much e-cig buffs like us would talk about and scrutinize her moment in the electronic cigarette timeline. While most of the talk about the Golden Globes has long died down, we would be loathe to miss this opportunity to give all our readers some perspective on just how far electronic cigarettes have come, and how much further and brighter the road ahead is.
The word is out about electronic cigarettes and we are in for much, much more as these fantastic devices make further inroads in popular culture. By the way, ‘vape’ is now an official word in the dictionary!
Stay tuned here for more news and analysis on the e-cig revolution!