Vaping on the big screen


From Danny Zuko in Grease, Tyler Durden in Fight Club and Gilda, Rita Hayworth's character from the film of the same name, the smoking of a cigarette has been used in Hollywood and beyond to depict everything from being cool and edgy, as hard as nails, or classy and sassy.

With e-cigarettes becoming ever more popular, it's interesting to imagine these screen characters with a vape pen or e-cigarette, instead of a regular cigarette drooping from their lips. If vaping had been around back then, would filmmakers have chosen e-cigarettes over real ones? Whether or not the rise in the popularity of vaping is down to health concerns or the negative press surrounding cigarette smoking or it's attributable to celebrity endorsements, it's clear that vaping is giving regular smoking a real run for its money on the silver screen. No matter what the reasons for this rise in popularity, there's no denying that it's becoming more and more cool to vape.

With vaping's newfound status, it's becoming much more common to see e-cigarettes being used in film and television, and they're being portrayed in a much more positive light too. So, when a character is shown in a film using an e-cigarette, what is the audience supposed to assume about that character's personality? E-cigarettes really started to take hold about 12 or 13 years ago, but it took a few years before we started to see vaping making an appearance in films. Since then, there have been a few high-profile films featuring characters who vape, with more set to hit the screens over the coming months.

The Tourist
Back in 2010, The Tourist showed Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) reading a book and smoking an e-cigarette. Depp's character is a gangster, working as a mathematics teacher, so he can be seen as hard, edgy and intelligent, all at the same time. In the film, Depp explains that the 'smoke' is water vapour and not real at all. The message here is that vaping is tech savvy and smart. Depp's love interest, Elise (Angelina Jolie) hits back at this revelation, saying "disappointing...rather be a man that does exactly as he pleases". This first on-screen discussion about vaping represents the starting bell in what has since become quite a battle between vaping and smoking.

Focus
In this 2015 rom-com crime drama, Rodrigo Santoro plays a billionaire Formula One team owner, Rafael Garriga. Throughout the film, Garriga is seen casually vaping, suggesting that he is both tech savvy and health-conscious. In a film that is based on deception and things being not what they seem, using vaping rather than smoking suggests perhaps that audiences should look deeper than surface appearances, to find value or meaning.

Drive Hard
In this 2015 film, John Cusack's character, Simon Keller, is a professional thief who takes a retired race car driver hostage and forces him to drive a getaway car, after a bank robbery. Vaping throughout the film, Keller is depicted as tough, edgy and ultimately a nicer guy than he might seem.

It seems, then, that vaping is very much the new star on the Hollywood stage. Popping up in more and more films in recent years, it's seen as a much healthier, smarter alternative to smoking, and a tech savvy solution to boot. What do you think when you see someone vaping in a film? Is it depicted accurately, in your opinion? Should vaping appear more often in films? What does vaping say to you about a character in a film? With e-cigarettes more popular than ever, these questions will no doubt engage avid vapers and film buffs alike for a long time to come.

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