While glamorized in many old movies and even in popular TV shows that tell stories from the 60’s or 70’s – like everyone’s favorite Mad Men –smoking has become socially unaccepted in the last decades and Bit Tobacco companies are prohibited from paid product placement in Hollywood films. However, electronic cigarette companies are not and it looks like they are seizing opportunities to buy their way onto the big screen.
A recent movie adaption of William Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ will feature the main star, played by the spectacular Milla Jovovichm puffing on a SmokeStik brand e-cigarette. The Canadian manufacturing company bought its place on the movie, the same way candy, soda and restaurants have been doing for years. As electronic cigarettes are considered a far safer alternative to their combustible analogs, brands can promote their products with an almost clear conscience. ‘I don’t see a problem with glamorizing something that saves lives,’ Bill Marangos, SmokeStik’s chief executive told the Wall Street Journal.
However, SmokeStik isn’t the only brand in trying to get into the Hollywood scene. Vapor Corp., one of the major electronic cigarette distributors, has brought on Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Relativity Media LLC, to its board of directors. Kavanaugh, who has helped produce hit films like ‘Don Jon,’ will be paid in company shares to give some ideas on how to bring Vapor’s products to movies and television.
Big Tobacco was a long time ago granted the take part in this marketing scheme, but a 1998 agreement between state governments and tobacco companies prohibited cigarette brands from paying to place their products in movies and on televisions shows. Nevertheless, while it was active, the strategy was a powerful one. Research published in Current Directions in Psychological Science in 2009 showed teenagers with increased exposure to smoking in films were three times as likely to try combustible tobacco in real life than those who were not.Before 2000 the number of tobacco appearances in films ranged from 54 to 98 per year, then declined to 22 per year after 2006.
Pamela Ling, a professor at the University of California San Francisco who studies tobacco marketing believes regulation is imminent, but until it is enforced, electronic cigarette companies are going to try and get away with as much product placement as they can. ’There is a spirit of, ‘As long as we can get away with this, let’s do it now!’ she said in an interview.
Back in April, the FDA proposed that e-cigarettes undergo an agency review that would require the products to include health warnings, a minimum age requirement and prohibit vending machine sales. The agency did not outline when new regulations would go into effect. However, in August, the American Heart Association urged the agency to make changes by the end of 2014.
Celebrities already have been witnessed puffing on their electronic cigarettes. Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Leonardo DiCaprio were noticed vaping at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards. Jenny McCarthy, a co-host on ABC’s ‘The View’ is the official spokesperson for bluCigs. Courtney Love is the new face of NJOY. Johnny Depp and Sean Penn have also been spotted with e-cigarettes.