16th Aug2017

Vaping on Screen: A Growing Trend?

by James Smith

Vaping is a trend that has grown massively in popularity over the course of the past few years, and it seems like more people than ever have chosen to take up the trend.  This is largely to do with the indoor smoking ban, along with more knowledge of just how much damage smoking can do. Even more recently, the trend has been picked up by the entertainment industry, and there are many examples of on-screen vaping.

Historical trends of smoking on screen

The idea of smoking on screen is not new. Even in older films, smoking has been used as a way to portray class in many different ways. For example, you will often see a villain with a cigarette between his teeth, or a rich man smoking a cigar. Both of these are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both use the same idea. With the emergence of vaping as a replacement for smoking, and sometimes even as a hobby, it seemed inevitable that the trend would soon appear on screen.

Vaping on screen – key examples

There are a number of examples of on-screen vaping, and this is seen in films, television shows and even on music videos. For example, in The Tourist, Johnny Depp is seen vaping in character as a mathematician. This portrayal suggests that vaping is clever, and a positive action – and this largely fits with worldly trends at present.


Looking to the small screen, vaping has even made an appearance on world-famous show The Simpsons. In the show, Patty and Selma both reject vaping due to it being “too clean”, which links in well with their characters. Fans of the show will be in agreement that they just wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t chain smoking. Vaping is featured in another episode in which Bart is introduced to it (pictured above) – and even Maggie is seen having a go. While this is controversial in itself, it is another key example of how vaping is being accepted in the mainstream media.

In addition to the appearance of vaping in the example above, it is also being shown on the small screen in soaps such as Coronation Street by well-known character Liz McDonald as a means to quit smoking. This shows that the media industry is largely choosing to lead by example by allowing influential characters to be seen vaping. It used to be a certainty that when you watched EastEnders, June Brown’s infamous character Dot Cotton would have a cigarette clutched within her lips. However, June took the lead in switching to vaping in her private life saying that she had been trying to extend this to the show for a while.

Ultimately, it seems like vaping is here to stay – and the mainstream media are grasping hold of this and using it on screen more and more often. Whereas smoking may have been used to portray villains in the past, it seems that vaping is being portrayed more as a positive status symbol, and a healthy alternative to smoking. It will certainly be interesting to see how this changes in the future, and how people will react to the ever-growing presence of vaping on their screens.

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