(Photo by hocus-focus/iStock)
NBCUniversal Inc. is feeling the heat from congressional Democrats after comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s on-air use of an electronic cigarette during the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday left them fuming.
Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, as well as Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, this week chastised NBCUniversal for broadcasting the “Veep” star’s e-cigarette puffing.
The House members wrote in a letter Thursday to NBCUniversal that they were “dismayed” by the Golden Globes gag in which Louis-Dreyfus dragged on an e-cigarette after hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler joked that that the actress was now better than television actors thanks to her nomination for a film award. NBCUniversal, a Comcast Corp. company, should at a minimum ban e-cigarette advertisements during shows that draw a large audience of children to “avoid sending the wrong message to kids about these products,” they wrote.
The senators on Tuesday wrote in a letter to NBCUniversal and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Golden Globes, that the organizations should “avoid the glamorization of smoking and protect the health of young fans.”
“In light of studies showing that exposure to on-screen smoking is a major contributor to smoking initiation among youth, we are troubled that these images glamorize smoking and serve as celebrity endorsements that could encourage young fans to begin smoking traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes,” the senators wrote.
A representative of NBCUniversal wasn’t immediately available for comment.
E-cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices marketed as alternatives to traditional cigarettes, don’t face marketing or sales restrictions under federal law like their nonelectronic tobacco counterparts. But the members of Congress are pushing for federal regulations.
“Our view is that e-cigarettes should be subject to the same advertising and marketing rules that apply to cigarettes and that are designed to protect our children from the harms of tobacco use,” the House members wrote in their letter.