A large part of the appeal of cigarettes to the younger generations is that smoking is seen as cool and a desired vice. It is something they see plastered on television, movies, comic books and other mediums. They want to emulate their idols, and smoking is a way to do that.
It allows them to feel like part of a culture and to be socially accepted by a sub-group of people. Celebrities have long been endorsers of cigarettes and smoking. Even if they didn’t set out to be seen as icons of the smoking industry, many celebrities end up in that position by virtue of their habits and their status.
Actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood made smoking seem masculine and part of something that manly men would do. Sharon Stone and the ladies who adorned the Virginia Slims billboards in the 90s made smoking seem attractive and feminine. Sometimes they were endorsed by cigarette conglomerates, and sometimes, it was simply a personal choice that became a part of their large than life persona. Whatever the case, their actions have made the appeal of smoking reach across the generations and become a way of life for many millions of people.
In other instances, smoking was a part of the sub-culture, and those celebrities who openly smoked caused smoking to permeate their culture more thoroughly. Such was the case with musician Bob Marley, who was partially responsible for turning marijuana from a drug of choice for a small subsection of Caribbean culture to an almost religious sacrament by Rastafarians and those who aspired to emulate their lifestyle.
The smoking habits of celebrities showed young impressionable people that smoking was socially acceptable. Their parents may have told them that smoking wasn’t good for them and that no sensible person would do it, but they saw their idols and people they respected smoking on national television and in the movies they watched. This presented them with an entirely different message from what they were being told. In their eyes, smoking was legitimized because of who was doing it.
That’s the effect that celebrities can have,and while many of them shy away from smoking cigarettes in public, today’s generation of celebrities is far more keen to vape or be caught on camera smoking marijuana. Weed has become a sort of symbol of rebellion, much the way that smoking cigarettes was back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The younger generation is taking up this habit because they see their idols like Rihanna, Seth Rogen and James Franco not only smoking weed but promoting it as a social norm.
The days of celebrity endorsements for cigarettes are not as completely in the past as many would think. While most celebrities aren’t endorsing cigarettes, many are endorsing marijuana and vaporizers. So while the product has changed, the idea that celebrities are making it seem cool to smoke is certainly not. Often, their targets are people who haven’t started smoking yet- which tends to be kids and teenagers.