Comedic actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus puffed away on an electronic cigarette during a Golden Globe Awards bit as a joke, but some Senate Democrats aren't laughing.
Sens. Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Edward Markey sent a letter to NBC Universal
demanding that the fake cigarettes not be used again as a prop in The Golden Globes, reports The Hill. The lawmakers complained the actress' use of the electronic cigarette in the televised awards show last Sunday night helped to glamorize smoking.
Louis-Dreyfus, who plays the vice-president on HBO's "Veep," was shown in the audience puffing on an e-cigarette and refusing to allow actress Reese Witherspoon to take a selfie photo with her. The skit was meant to portray Louis-Dreyfus as being "too cool" to interact with the other actors who had not been nominated for a Golden Globe.
"The Golden Globes celebrates entertainers who are an influence on young fans," the senators said in their joint letter to NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke and Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Theo Kingma.
"We ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to take actions to ensure that future broadcasts of the Golden Globes do not intentionally feature images of e-cigarettes. Such action would help to avoid the glamorization of smoking and protect the health of young fans."
The senators said studies show on-screen smoking from "celebrity endorsements" encourages young people to adopt the habit.
E-cigarettes are designed to simulate or replace tobacco cigarettes. The devices use flavored nicotine cartridges that don't get off any smoke or offensive odors. The devices are not restricted for marketing or sales to minors like tobacco cigarettes are, and the Centers for Disease Control reports usage has doubled among children in recent years.
The four senators are pushing efforts to increase federal oversight of e-cigarettes, and are among 12 lawmakers pushing for e-cigarette makers to provide more information on sales and marketing of the devices. Durbin, Blumenthal, and Brown have also asked the Food and Drug Administration to outlaw the sale of e-cigarettes to children.
According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are not as addictive as tobacco cigarettes, because they turn nicotine into steam, not smoke.
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