Home Blog Dua Lipa, Jenna Ortega, more stars are smoking cigarettes. Why? – USA TODAY

Dua Lipa, Jenna Ortega, more stars are smoking cigarettes. Why? – USA TODAY

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Uh oh, smoking is cool again. At least, some people seem to think so.
Dua Lipa, Lily-Rose Depp and Jenna Ortega have all flaunted their cigarettes recently. Many young people are getting back into the smoking aesthetic, especially on nights out. It’s 2023. The general public is well aware that smoking is dangerous – so why are some people still picking up smoking now? 
“It’s a source of frustration because people do know that (it can kill),” says Robin Koval, CEO of the anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative. “But we have a tobacco industry that is working day and night to actively promote a product that will kill 50% of the people who use it. … It is frustrating, and this is why we have to keep talking about it.” 
A post shared by DUA LIPA (@dualipa)
Seemingly gone were the days of Audrey Hepburn and James Dean lighting up a cigarette and becoming the picture of cool. There’s plenty of information available to the public about how smoking kills, and statistically as of last year, smoking among teens was at the lowest point in history, according to Truth Initiative research. 
But the last few months have seen a rise in both celebrities sharing images of themselves smoking, and regular young folks sharing photos of themselves on social media “social smoking. ” Vintage and throwback aesthetics are all the rage, and the cultural “spiral back into skinny culture” goes hand in hand with cigarette culture.
This new trend of smoking is seemingly compartmentalized − just having a cigarette or two with friends after a night out or while vacationing in Europe. The problem, experts say, is that social smoking doesn’t really exist. Those who try it aren’t as immune to addiction as they believe.  
“People think they can just do this and it won’t affect them,” says Susan Whitbourne, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “This slippery slope exists between social smoking and smoking, and because of the nature of addictions, it’s very hard to break one completely.” 
Koval chalks it up to celebrities and others trying to create a sort of “rebel counterculture.” The mainstream consensus is that smoking is bad? That makes it all the more cool.  
“Young people are looking for an identity and are grabbing at anything that will provide them with that sense of identity,” Whitbourne says. “With smoking, it’s like… ‘Look how cool this person is who I admire and follow on Instagram.’ “ 
A post shared by cigarettes🕊🚬 (@cigarettes)
Health organizations such as Truth Initiative have spent decades trying to inform young people of the dangers of smoking tobacco. 
“When celebrities become unpaid spokespeople for the tobacco industry, we risk losing that ground,” Koval says. “And even worse than that … by having these images out there, they are triggering people who are working very, very hard and desperately trying to quit.” 
Are celebrities who post images of themselves smoking or play characters who smoke liable for influencing others to follow suit? Many experts believe so.
Truth Initiative’s latest study on smoking in entertainment found that 60% of the 15 most popular shows among 15- to 24-year-olds contained depictions of tobacco in 2021. And 47% of the top films released in 2021 depicted tobacco imagery, according to a study by NORC at the University of Chicago. Young people who have been exposed to smoking via entertainment are three times more likely to try or take up smoking, according to Dartmouth Medical School research.
“I think (entertainers) have a responsibility,” Whitbourne says. “It’s always one step forward, two steps back with humans and their health.” 
“These images do have influence,” Koval adds, challenging entertainers to find a healthier form of expression. “Hollywood’s been using somebody smoking a cigarette to say ‘Oh, I’m sad’ or ‘Oh I’m a rebel’ … isn’t there a more creative way that’s less hackneyed to send a message?” 
Previously Study finds tobacco imagery persists in TV, movies and music videos viewed by young audiences

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