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How Vaping Is Portrayed in Hollywood and Why More Vaping Depictions Need to Happen

image of a movie theater camera with the title How Vaping Is Portrayed in Hollywood

Andres Roman |

There was a time in the golden age of cinema and TV when smoking and cigarettes were used to add mystique, glamor, and gravitas to certain characters. With those days now gone, and vaping becoming more and more prevalent in popular culture, how has Hollywood depicted vaping to audiences? 

Today we talk about this topic, give recent examples of how Hollywood is depicting vaping, and why we feel that more depictions of vaping need to happen in the entertainment industry (We also want to make it clear that we are not advocating Hollywood to promote vaping, simply to represent it realistically like the cultural phenomenon that it is).

Table of Contents

  1. Vaping In Movies and TV
  2. Why It’s Important To Show People Vaping in Cinema
  3. Conclusion

Vaping In Movies and TV

As vaping becomes more popular, it is only natural that it would appear in films and television. After all, if all art is a reflection of society and the times, then it’s clear that vaping as a hobby has a place in popular culture. In fact, Nope, Jordan Peele’s 2022 movie, features famous actress Keke Palmer as a vaper who also happens to be one of the leads in the film. While her vaping habit does not build on the character the way old Hollywood would rely on cigarettes to add more levels to her personality, it also does not diminish the strength of her qualities. 

On the other hand, in the popular television series Mare of Easttown, actress Kate Winslet is shown regularly hitting a vape. The series, which revolves around her being a small town detective that is plagued by addiction and tragedy, highlights how she resorts to vaping to escape her reality, painting vaping as an addiction rather than an adult pastime that people of all economic backgrounds partake in. 

When vaping was just becoming popular around 2014, it was used in the film 99 Homes, a movie about the 2008 housing crisis, as a tool used by the villain of the film to create a character “too slick to be trusted.” The villain, a rich but corrupt real estate agent, used an e-cig, one of the earliest models of cigarettes to show that he was a ticking time bomb waiting to blow

Although there are other depictions and ways in which vaping is shown in cinema and TV, with the most recent being “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” where a young model vaping might be considered as glamorous, long gone are the days in which TV specials were sponsored by tobacco companies and celebrities were sponsored by cigarette brands. 

Why It’s Important To Show People Vaping in Cinema and TV

While cigarette companies are no longer paying for product placements in TV shows and cinema, it’s a fact that cigarettes and smoking are still being shown in TV and movies. In March 2022, a study showed that of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture, 80% included tobacco depictions. This means that cigarettes and smoking are still being shown to audiences on a global scale. And while the depiction might no longer be related to charm and mystery, there is no doubt that these depictions help the popularity of smoking. 

This is why we think it’s important to show other options of nicotine use like vaping in TV and cinema. Whether these depictions are positive or negative is not important. Vaping, whether we like it or not is now a part of our culture, and it should be a part of our films, just like cigarettes have been for decades. 

Conclusion

While we understand that cigarette use happens among adults, and its inclusion in many cases helps to expand on stories and characters and not necessarily to push an agenda, we just think that vaping is also a cultural phenomenon that adults partake in, and that not including it in media, just because it does not fit with the agenda of anti-vaping advocates, is like trying to hold back the wind with your hands.