Celebrities have a stronger effect on the culture of smoking than you think. Smoking is commonly portrayed in media such as television, movies, music videos, and comic books, and this perpetuates the idea that smoking regularly is a completely normal way of life.
This culture of smoking is not new. It’s been in place just as long as actors have been smoking, and it became widespread when celebrities began to endorse cigarettes and other tobacco products. Sometimes, celebrities who did not have cigarette endorsements helped spread the culture just by virtue of being smokers themselves.
Actors like Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger made the act of smoking and cigarettes look cool. Smoking then appeared to be something like a symbol of masculinity. At the same time, Sharon Stone and other women featured in billboards for cigarettes such as Virginia Slims made smoking more appealing to the female gender. Deliberately or not, many actors and actresses have helped cement smoking as a way of life for many people today. Through these celebrities, the appeal of smoking now spans multiple generations.
Celebrities who smoke and are associated with certain sub-cultures have done a lot to help spread the popularity of smoking, too. In such cases, smoking becomes a significant part of a sub-culture that people want to adopt. People want to be socially accepted to a certain sub-group of society, so they take up smoking to gain acceptance.
This is the case with renowned musician Bob Marley, who, inadvertently or not, transformed marijuana from a recreational drug to an almost-indispensable substance for Rastafarians. People who wanted to adopt the Rastafarian lifestyle often took up marijuana, too, to fully immerse themselves in the lifestyle.
The undeniable effect of celebrities on smoking is even more evident these days, when more and more of the younger generation are taking up smoking as a habit. Although parents and elders tell kids that smoking is a bad habit with a serious effect on their health, many kids and teenagers choose to take up smoking when they see their idols and other people they respect lightning up cigarettes. Seeing smoking portrayed in TV shows and movies and hearing about it in songs, kids now think that their smoking habits are completely legitimate.
Aside from smoking, more and more celebrities today are portrayed to be frequent users of e-cigarettes and marijuana. Weed is now often seen as a symbol of rebellion or defiance, much like smoking back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. When young people today see celebrities such as James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Rihanna rolling up and smoking joints, they get the idea that frequently using marijuana is a social norm.
So, not much has really changed; celebrities might not be endorsing cigarettes and smoking as heavily as they used to, but celebrities still make smoking seem cool, as they’re frequently caught by media using vaporizers and marijuana. Celebrities still perpetuate the culture of smoking, and, now, alarmingly, it’s affecting a younger generation of kids and teenagers.