There is perhaps no more iconic and lasting prop in cinema history than the cigarette. It can generate a cloud of mystique around a brooding villain. It can burn down to the filter between the fingers of an agonizing victim. It can fill countless other roles as it smolders away, and when it’s spent, it can be flicked, crushed, or stomped to great dramatic effect.

But the cigarette is falling out of favor due to health concerns. Many actors have given up the habit, and cigarettes no longer figure as prominently in the films themselves.

Just as tobacco has been supplanted in real life by vaping, it has also been set aside in cinema. Movies are beginning to incorporate vaporizers as props just as they once included cigarettes. There are several reasons why.

Vaporizers Can “Act”

Cigarette smoke can be very problematic in cinema. For one thing, few scenes are made in a single take. That means that any scene involving cigarette or cigar smoke could potentially cause an actor to spend a very long period of time smoking, even if he or she isn’t an actual smoker. In time, the actor could start to feel sick, or at the very least, experience a cough or changes in voice that degrade the scene’s quality. Prop managers must also have sufficient extra cigarettes on hand for potentially dozens of retakes.

Enter the vaporizer. This versatile device can provide ample smoke to simulate real tobacco smoke. In fact, because it produces more vapor than cigarettes, vape smoke could actually look more like tobacco smoke on film than real tobacco smoke. Prop managers can easily order plenty of material from, as one example,, and actors won’t struggle physically with the scene.

Characters Vape, Too

As vaping becomes more popular, there will be vaping characters emerging in scripts and screenplays. It may seem like a minor plot detail, but it really isn’t. The choice to vape instead of smoking reveals a desire to indulge in a relaxing pastime with an eye toward maintaining good health–a pretty rich character description that tells a lot more about the character than one might first think.

So it seems logical that more and more writers will use vaping as a way to characterize the people in their creations, especially since it’s easier every day to get someone to play the part. And that brings us to our next point.

Actors Are Willing

Having an actor smoke in a film without smoking in real life was a problem. Actors typically have clauses in their contracts that specify what they will and will not do in movies. These often include obvious things like nudity but can also include use of tobacco or firearms. An actor like Johnny Depp, who no longer smokes in real life, might not be willing to smoke in character, either.

Vaping takes care of that. The actor can generate the vapor without using any nicotine, so he or she can give the look of someone smoking tobacco or even illegal substances when the part calls for it, all without ingesting anything dangerous. This allows the actor like Depp to stay fit and healthy for work and fun public appearances.

There are always changes in filmmaking. From the equipment to the stories to the settings, something is always getting an overhaul. For decades, cigarettes were as much a part of the on-camera action as smiles and bright lights, but as they’ve faded away, vaping has materialized as a plot tool that safely circumvents the problems that tobacco used to create.