Democrats miffed at NBC for smoking gag during Golden Globes

Senate Democrats were not amused to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus puffing away on an electronic cigarette during the Golden Globe Awards.

ADVERTISEMENT
The lawmakers said Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a fictional vice president on HBO’s “Veep,” helped glamorize smoking on the broadcast and are pressing NBC Universal to ensure that the “e-cigarettes” are not featured again.

“The Golden Globes celebrates entertainers who are an influence on young fans," the Democrats wrote. "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 letter was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Ed Markey (Mass.), and sent to NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke and Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Theo Kingma.

The senators cited studies showing that on-screen smoking contributes to young people adopting the habit and said such images amounted to “celebrity endorsements” of the behavior.

During the broadcast, Louis-Dreyfus was seen puffing on an e-cigarette in an exaggerated manner after hosts joked that her award nomination in a film category had made her “too cool” for television actors.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devises designed to simulate and replace conventional cigarettes, minus the tobacco. Cartridges of flavored nicotine are vaporized and then inhaled by the user.

The popularity of e-cigarettes has been rising rapidly, with usage more than doubling among school-age children from 2011-2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The products are controversial, as e-cigarettes are far less regulated than tobacco cigarettes. There is no federal law restricting their marketing or sale to minors, and devices are not subject to review and approval by the FDA.

Each of the senators signing onto the letter has been involved in efforts to increase federal oversight of the devices. In September, they were among 12 members of Congress to call on e-cigarette makers to provide more information on their sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens.

In April, Durbin, Blumenthal and Brown asked the FDA to restrict the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children.