Are you 13 years old? Or a blue collar worker? Are you sober? Would you be willing to work 10-12 hours breathing secondhand smoke? How about vaping on camera?
You can be a star, baby!
A Los Angeles casting company is looking for actors to star in new anti-vaping ads being produced by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), probably as part of the agency’s Still Blowing Smoke campaign.
An ad found on Facebook describes exactly who they’re looking for:
- GROUPS OF 13 YR OLD GIRL FRIENDS
- GROUPS OF BOY & GIRL FRIENDS (13 YRS OLD)
- REAL GROUPS OF FRIENDS (25-32 YRS)
- REAL BLUE COLLAR WORKERS (25-32 YRS)
- REAL TSA EMPLOYEES (25-32 YRS)
- REAL GROUPS OF FRIENDS THAT ARE SOBER (25-32 YRS)
Previous CDPH ads, and the Still Blowing Smoke website, have been filled with images of young teenagers vaping, and even smoking — along with deceptive and dishonest misrepresentations of the scientific and policy debates around vaping. Still Blowing Smoke is an all-out attack on vaping, and though it’s supposedly aimed at preventing teen uptake, the relentless negativity and lies almost certainly convince lots of adult smokers to stick with combustibles.
The agency’s ads are frequently seen on TV in California, which would be surprising (because of the cost of TV advertising in the wealthiest U.S. state) if the ad campaign wasn’t backed by a $75 million grant from the CDPH’s California Tobacco Control Program.
Yes, that’s $75 million for anti-vaping propaganda. The California Tobacco Control Program also runs the Tobacco Free CA website, which has its own set of anti-vaping ads. The propaganda from the state of California is as common as a brush fire and as thick as a mudslide.
(Still Blowing Smoke is the anti-vaping campaign that was brilliantly pre-empted and hijacked by Stefan Didak and Jason Downing, who found the original launch materials (not very well hidden online) and in one caffeine-fueled weekend created Not Blowing Smoke, a virtual mirror of the state-run site, but full of positive vaping messages and material skewering the expensive state-run campaign. Not Blowing Smoke has since morphed into an advocacy organization.)
Glendale-based Tiffany Company Casting has also reached out directly to vaping businesses, asking for help finding vape tricksters for the ads. Maybe they’ll replace some footage of the “real blue collar workers” with vape tricks. Or maybe they’re going to ask the tricksters to teach the “13-year-old girl friends” to blow vape rings.
John Cavanaugh, CEO of Vaping Industries, was surprised this week by a Facebook message from someone named Kellyanne O’Callaghan, who described herself as a Casting Associate at Tiffany Company Casting. Cavanaugh didn’t know her.
O’Callaghan was looking for people able to perform vape tricks, and asked for Cavanaugh’s help. Describing videos she had seen online of “some pretty amazing talented guys blowing vape rings and such” in one of Cavanaugh’s Costa Mesa vape shops, she wondered if he could connect her with some of the vapers. “We would LOVE to have them audition for our project,” she gushed.
She described the compensation for those who take part in the video shoots, and asked if he could set up Skype interviews with some of the vapers. Cavanaugh said he checked her profile on Facebook and found a post that included an ad for “the project.” Her description of the photoshoot described it as “Very poignant and important message.”
Apparently, it’s poignant to lie to smokers about a possible alternative that could save their lives. Note that she left those words out of her direct message to Cavanaugh — and also failed to mention that the ads would be used to misinform the public about vaping. Then again, she may not have known. Cavanaugh shot her down immediately — but she may be able to con another less sharp vape shop owner.
O’Callaghan’s Facebook post describes the photoshoot as a “non-union project,” which seems like a big no-no for the pro-union California tobacco control industry. (Unions helped tobacco control get a massive cigarette tax hike passed as part of the state’s 2016 Prop 56 vote.) But maybe they’re getting cheap as the $75 million well starts to dry. Perhaps members of some of the many Los Angeles-area film and TV unions will picket the shoot.
What kind of vapers would knowingly take part in ads used to demonize the very thing that saved their lives? We’ll find out soon. And, even more interesting, what kind of parent is such a stage mother (or father) that they would allow their 13-year-old to take this job? I suppose we should never be shocked by what people will do for a few dollars.
As the country’s largest state ramps up its war on e-liquid flavors — deliberately confusing vapes with actual tobacco products like little cigars — Californians can expect to see the lies flowing freely. And, as with all things in California, the rest of the country can expect the trend to move east.