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U.S. senators criticize Golden Globes Awards e-cigarette skit in open letter

Julia Louis-Dreyfus smokes an e-cigarette during the Golden Globes broadcast on Jan. 12, 2014.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus smokes an e-cigarette during the Golden Globes broadcast on Jan. 12, 2014.
Screenshot, via NBC News

The presence of e-cigarettes and "vaping" have led to multiple conversations on whether they're really safer than the real thing, and a group of U.S. senators are none too pleased with the use of one in a skit during Sunday's Golden Globes.

One of the gags during the broadcast involved co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler talking about Julia Louis-Dreyfus being nominated for her roles in both the film Enough Said and the TV show Veep. After mentioning her decision to sit in the film section of the room, the camera cut away to Louis-Dreyfus, who snobbishly puffed on an e-cigarette and refused Reese Witherspoon's invitation to take a selfie with her.

While the bit went over well with the audience, on Tuesday four senators released an open letter to the producers of the NBC broadcast criticizing the "glamorization" of smoking. The senators, all Democrats, include Dick Durbin (IL), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sherrod Brown (OH), and Edward J. Markey (MA).

“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 letter reads.

The letter also asked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to avoid intentionally showing e-cigarettes in future broadcasts.

NBC News notes that actor Leonardo DiCaprio could be seen smoking an e-cigarette during the broadcast as well.

All four senators, plus eight additional members of Congress, called on nine e-cigarette makers to "provide additional information regarding the sale, distribution, labeling, and marketing of their products to children and teens" back in September.