Vaping breaks through: some portrayals of vaping in the wider media

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Spending and Saving: A Delicate Dance

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Vaping breaks through: some portrayals of vaping in the wider media

2 May 2018
 Categories: Shopping, Blog

You may get a sinking feeling when vaping appears in the popular media, expecting a scare story or staged debate. But in fact e-cigarettes are slowly seeping through into the popular media. Not so long ago any film or TV hero or heroine would be shown with a cigarette to prove their coolness; nowadays other alternatives are beginning to appear.


It would be difficult to find the first example of vaping on the big screen, but one early candidate would be Johnny Depp in the 2010 film The Tourist. This romantic comedy thriller shows Depp's character Frank Tupelo vaping when he first meets Elise, played by Angelina Jolie, on a train. The presence of an e-cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood A-lister must have done much to raise the profile of vaping.


Vaping's appearances on TV often appear to be little more than opportunities for cheap gags and satire. However, a more positive portrayal took place in the second series of House of Cards, where the fictional President Frank Underwood is shown vaping to help him give up smoking. Meanwhile the police officer Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams, is also shown with an e-cigarette in the second series of True Detective, perhaps the twenty-first century's equivalent of the pipe-smoking Sherlock Holmes.

Video games

One of the more surprising appearances of vaping takes place in Grand Theft Auto 5. Players can take a rest from car chases and shootouts by listening to the radio, where they may come across an ad for the fictitious "Electrotoke system", in flavours such as peanut butter or cheesecake. There are also websites within the game giving full details of the vapes system and a list of flavours. The ad may be a satire, but it promotes the concept of vaping to an audience that may not be familiar with it.

Music video

E-cigarettes have even started showing up in music videos. Frontman Dave Grohl grabs one in the video for the Foo Fighters' song "Run", while Lily Allen accepted an e-cig product placement deal for the video for her song "Hard Out Here".

Such appearances are still few and far between, and are often the butt of jokes or disapproval. But with smoking becoming increasingly unpopular on film and TV, we should expect our screens to feature vaping more and more in the future - and portrayed in a more positive light.