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Lawmakers Accuse Golden Globes Of Glamorizing E-Cigarettes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some members of Congress are fuming, accusing the Golden Globes of glamorizing electronic cigarettes during Sunday's award show.

In a skit during the broadcast, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler poked fun at actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was then seen in sunglasses while puffing on an e-cigarette.

At another point in the broadcast, actor Leonardo DiCaprio was also seen using an e-cigarette.

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Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said he and three other senators sent letters to NBC, which broadcast the show, and to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gave out the awards, asking them to "take action to ensure that future broadcasts avoid the glamorization of smoking and protect the health of young fans."

"We just had the Golden Globe awards and some of these red-hot actors and actresses who we all love to watch in movies were puffing away on their e-cigarettes, and I thought, you're killing the next generation of fans in your movies," Durbin said on the Senate floor earlier this week.

Battery operated, the device heats up liquid nicotine and delivers a chemical-infused vapor. E-cigarettes are billed by many manufacturers as the cigarettes you can smoke anywhere.

The American Association of Public Health Physicians also recommends them to addicts as a way to wean off traditional cigarettes.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was one of the lawmakers who joined Durbin in sending the letters, CBS News reported. He said e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.

"There's a reason that Big Tobacco companies are buying the e-cigarette manufacturers, and that is they see a way to induce young people," he told CBS News.

Jason Healy, president of the company that made the e-cigarette Dreyfus was using, told CBS News the accusations are unsupported and unfounded.

"It's like saying energy drinks are a gateway to meth," he said.

Others in the e-cigarette industry agree.

Matthew Nocifora, president of ProSmoke Electronic Cigarettes, said the concerns expressed by lawmakers over the Golden Globes is "surprising and baseless."

"Since electronic cigarettes look and function similarly to traditional tobacco cigarettes, they falsely assume they are the same. They are not," he said in a statement to "This would be as silly as banning Golden Globe attendees from drinking water, simply because it looks like Vodka and would glamorize drinking alcohol."

He said they support laws limiting the purchase age and individual categorization of e-cigarette products, but said "classifying and legislating e-cigarettes as a traditional tobacco product would be a big mistake."

Blumenthal however, disagrees.

"E-cigarettes are nicotine-delivery devices," he said. "They have to be viewed, just as tobacco cigarettes are, as a means of delivering a drug -- nicotine."

Lawmakers around the country and across the Tri-State area have been taking action against the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

On Wednesday, Chicago voted to expand its regulation of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, barring their use in offices, indoor public areas and within a certain distance of building entrances.

In December, the New York City Council approved legislation to ban the use of e-cigarettes from indoor public spaces where smoking is already prohibited.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has also added e-cigarettes to its smoking ban on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains.

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