Feb 27, 2014

Celebrities Who Smoke Send the Wrong Signal

Whether they like it or not, celebrities are role models for many impressionable young people.

We love to see how they dress, who and where they hang out and what they do in real life when they're not up on the big screen. They're larger than life, so we may even be surprised to see them do "normal" things, like taking their dog for a walk.

Keira Knightley smokes?!
But when they do something that's no longer cool -- like smoking -- they completely lose me.

Here's a list of 10 celebrities that were caught on camera smoking:

1.  Minnie Driver
2.  Mary-Kate Olsen
3.  Cheryl Burke
4.  Keira Knightley
5.  Rihanna
6.  Jessica Alba
7.  Melanie Griffith
8.  Kate Winslet
9.  Salma Hayek
10.Katy Perry

Frankly, they disappoint me. A lot. 

I thought they were supposed to be trend-setters. Since when is smoking cigarettes a new trend? 

I have a lot more respect for celebrities like Katherine Heigl, who went on David Letterman back in 2007 with her e-cigarette. 

And Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was nominated for her roles in the HBO series "Veep" and film "Enough Said" gets two thumbs up in my book for vaping at the Golden Globes.

Any celebrity who sends a vapor signal instead of spewing deadly secondhand-smoke gets my vote. 

Thank you for not smoking!

Feb 20, 2014

Anti-Smoking Heroine Barb Tarbox

A heroine is someone who died for a cause.

Barb Tarbox (1961 – 2003, age 42) is without a shred of doubt in my mind, a heroine.

Like many teenagers, Barb began smoking in high school because she wanted to be "popular." Even though she was beautiful, she still wanted to fit in. While the dangers of smoking were well known when she started smoking in the mid-1970's, plenty of teenagers started smoking to look cool.

Barb Tarbox was a beautiful young woman who started smoking an occasional cigarette as a teenager.
What amazes me is that teenagers still start smoking for the exact same reasons: because they think it looks cool and they want to fit with the "in" crowd.

Anyway, back to Barb. Barb started small, like a lot of "social smokers." She would typically just snitch a cigarettes out of her mother's purse. But nicotine, while not a carcinogen, is very addictive. By the time Barb was 21, she was up to two packs a day and that's when she learned that her mother, a lifelong smoker, had terminal lung cancer. Barb famously reports that the doctor warned her that if she didn’t quit, she would find herself in his office within 20 years.

Sure enough, 19 years later, now married to the love of her life and with a young daughter of her own, Barb was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. The cancer quickly spread to her brain and bones, and there was little doctors could do. Diagnosed in September 2002, Barb was told she would be lucky to make it to Christmas.

And here comes the heroine part. Most of us would focus on what would make us happiest in our remaining months of life. But not Barb. Rather than quietly living out her final days in the company of family and close friends, she decided to spend her last weeks on this earth talking to kids, telling them her message.

She told them her story, why she picked up her first cigarette, and that she just wanted to be "cool." She told them she should have quit when her mother died of lung cancer. She told them she couldn't even quit when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

She told them what she would do differently. Her message was simple and to the point. "If you smoke, quit. And if you don’t, never start." Her delivery was frank and open, full of emotion. She didn't hold back. She would even remove her scarf to reveal her bald head.

In the months following her diagnosis, Barb spoke to more than 50,000 kids all across Canada, reaching millions more in radio and TV appearances. Teenagers would hand over their packs of cigarettes, vowing never to smoke again.

Perhaps her mission kept her alive a little longer, because instead of dying at Christmas, Barb hung on until May 18, 2003. Since she passed away, the teenage smoking rate in Alberta has dropped by about five percent to 13 percent. And her work still isn't done. Two photos of Barb in her last days of life now appears on Canadian cigarette packaging, and the government has raised tobacco taxes and penalties for providing tobacco to minors.

Photos of Barb in her final days appear on Canadian cigarette packaging.
Barb was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2003 by the Governor General of Canada, for her devotion to the anti-smoking cause. Her daughter, Mackenzie, accepted the decoration and continues to talk about her mother's amazing legacy.

Feb 14, 2014

A More Kissable You

Kiss me, you fool!

But as a smoker, you could be fooling yourself to think that a non-smoker enjoys kissing you. It has nothing to do with how sexy and adorable you are. It has everything to do with the fact that non-smokers generally dislike the smell and taste of smoke.

Non-smokers tend to prefer non-smokers. So not smoking means you
are more available to the majority of men.
Of course you could always carry a little vial of mouthwash around with you or chew gum to mask the taste of cigarettes. But these are just temporary fixes.

And the important thing to keep in mind is that it's not just the smell that's bothersome. Kissing someone is an intimate act that can lead to other intimate acts and a possible relationship. When you're thinking about have a relationship with someone, you're evaluating what kind of person they are and what kind of partner they'll be.

Smoking cigarettes may send a signal to a prospective mate that you don't care about your health. It may actually go against his core values -- especially if he's macho-man who loves to work out at the gym six days a week.

Smoking leads to a whole slew of dental problems, including bad breath and yellow teeth, which are just the early signs of an unhealthy mouth.

A new study has found that smoking can also lead to gum disease, which causes tooth loss. Smoking messes up the normal function of gum tissue, which affects the attachment of bone and soft tissue to the teeth.

Bad bread and yellowed teeth are just the tip of the iceberg.
Smokers were about four times more likely than non-smokers to have periodontal disease; nearly 53 percent of gum disease was attributed to smoking.

But there was good news in the study, too. Researchers found that smokers who had quit at least 11 years earlier faced no increased risk of gum disease, according to the findings published in the Journal of Periodontology.

So the upshot is that quitting smoking or switching to an e-cigarette will likely reduce your risk of gum disease.

And you'll be more kissable, too.

Feb 6, 2014

The Making of "Vape Inside and Get the Guy"

Picture this scene:

A handsome man walks past a woman smoking outside. She looks him up and down, clearly liking what she sees.

It’s winter in Minnesota and he hurries past her, paying her no attention whatsoever. She may be a "10" but he’s a non-smoker. He subtly holds his breath as he walks past her.

As he enters the bar, he's greeted warmly by a large group of friends, all dressed to the nines. They're chatting and laughing; several women are vaping, holding their sleek, black e-cigarettes between their index and middle fingers.

He stands next to one woman, elegantly dressed in a shimmery tight-fitting purple dress. Their chemistry is obvious to anyone looking on. She blows vapor from her e-cigarette in his direction; the sweet-smelling vapors dissipate immediately into the air.

Meanwhile, the lone smoker is missing out on the fun, the jokes, the stories and the laughter. She’s cold and alone. She can see through the window that her group of friends are having a great time.

The Inside Story Behind the Vaping Vamps Video

This is the story that we tell in our Vaping Vamps video and it’s not a stretch to assume that this scenario is a common one in a day and age when vaping e-cigarettes is becoming more and more popular. In fact, e-cigarettes may even replace traditional cigarettes within the next decade.

The concept for this video was developed by a special group of students at the University of Minnesota: P.R. students and members of PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America. This talented group of students volunteered to help Vaping Vamps get the message out about the benefits of e-cigarettes over smoking to their fellow students.

We started by pulling together a focus group of their fellow students who smoked – all women in their late teens and early 20’s, most of whom started smoking in high school.

Most of them started smoking as a social activity – during work breaks, with friends or when drinking. Some were light smokers, while others had “graduated” to smoking a pack a day. They admitted that their parents didn’t know and wouldn’t be happy if they knew they were smoking.

While most of them thought they would probably quit someday, they didn’t have a clear idea how exactly they would quit or what resources they would use. They were familiar with e-cigarettes, and about half had tried them, but were not currently using them for various reasons.

Everyone wanted the experience of vaping an e-cigarette to replicate the sensation of smoking, because they all enjoyed smoking.

The Social Aspect: A Huge Factor for Women Who Smoke

In a nutshell, we learned that for women, the social aspect of smoking was huge. It was largely the reason why women started smoking as well as why they continued to smoke.

So we decided that the focus of our video would be to ostracize smokers and play up the fact that vaping is not only healthier, but it enables you to stay inside with your friends.

An important secondary message was the fact that most non-smokers don't want to be around smokers, and are unlikely to want to kiss a smoker. That's an important message for young women to hear, because most women want to feel attractive and alluring to men.

Check out the video on Vaping Vamps' YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MJsI8Wqdok. We'd love your feedback and comments on our first produced video. Tell us - and the beautiful and talented U of MN students - what you think!