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Should African-American celebrities join the e-cigarette industry?

 Bruno Mars performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Bruno Mars performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

E-cigarettes are gaining in popularity, and with the amount of artists who embrace smoking cigarettes and cigars (ex. Trey Songz, Jay Z, T.I., Snoop Lion, etc.) should African-American celebrities try to bank on the e-cig industry or avoid it?

Here's the scoop on celebrities who are currently embracing the e-cigarette industry, who's getting lambasted for it and African-Americans' current rates of smoking.

E-cigarette business investments for celebrities

E-cigarettes have gained in popularity, and some celebrities are taking financial advantage of that. Pop star Bruno Stars stopped smoking as a tribute to his late mother on Mother's Day of 2013. Since then, according to PR News Wire, Bruno Mars invested money into the e-cig industry with NJOY Kings.

Trying-to-quit celebrity pics

Other celebrities may not be making an investment buck off of the product, but they've also been seen using the cigarette alternative on vacations, around town and even on talk shows. Actress Katherine Heigl is one of the first to make e-cigarettes a public discussion, puffing away on an e-cigarette during her interview on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," even getting the host in on it.

"You have no excuse to smoke a real cigarette," she said on Letterman's show, after giving him detailed instructions as to how they're used. This was free promo for the e-cig industry without them spending a dime. Now she may wish she'd have invested in an e-cig industry company during her impromptu how-to session, but she was more concerned with the politically correct industry coming back to haunt her.

Other celebrities who've been caught enjoying water vapors are music artists Katy Perry, Ronnie Wood and Britney Spears; actors John Cusack, Jack Nicholson, Lindsay Lohan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Penn, Robert Pattinson, Kevin Connolly, Stephen Dorff, Natasha Lyonne and Dennis Quaid; and TV personalities Paris Hilton, Jennifer Ann "Jenny" McCarthy and Simon Cowell.

E-cig spottings on television

In the older days, before people knew all of the cons of smoking nicotine, it wasn't unusual to find guests on popular talk shows, such as "The Johnny Carson Show," smoking while they were being interviewed. With e-cigarettes considered the healthier alternative, will TV shows and talk shows do the same? This is still uncertain, but there is a possibility. In a recent episode of "2 Broke Girls," actress Jennifer Coolidge (who plays the role of Sophie Kachinsky) was seen puffing away on an e-cig during a door scene.

Celebrity backlash from e-cig industry

Heigl's concern about the backlash of the products was a lesson learned for talk show host Jenny McCarthy. While the health industry continues to do research about potential health problems with e-cigs, which do have nicotine in them, anti-smoking industries are paying attention to celebrity endorsements. According to RadarOnline, Freedom Laser Therapy, Inc. is offering $1 million to McCarthy to work with their company instead of doing videos like the "Freedom" taping for blu eCigs. So far, McCarthy hasn't released a public response.

African-Americans' role in cigarette industry

According to the American Lung Association, "African Americans accounted for approximately 12 percent of the 46 million adults who were current smokers in the United States during 2008." Although the verdict is still out on whether the nicotine in e-cigarettes is too addictive to use to curb smoking, African-Americans are definitely big customers for the industry. ALA also reports that magazine advertising for mentholated cigarettes increased from 13 percent in 1998 to 49 percent in 2005. Menthol cigarettes are the most likely choice for African-Americans. And Forbes reports that the e-cigarette industry could be over $1 billion.

Do you think African-American celebrities, who have always been influential when it comes to clothing, cosmetics, shoes and even fragrance advertising, should put more of an effort into anti-smoking or take baby steps like moving towards the e-cig industry instead?

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.

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