Thursday, 22 February 2018

Vapour Trails

I read, with interest, the article over on @Dick_Puddlecote’s page discussing ‘Vaping Etiquette’. On the one side, we had Dick’s view that ‘cloud-chasers’ are ruining the vaping scene and handing ammunition to the prohibitionists. Giving the opposing view was Dave Dorn’s opinion in the defence of ‘cloud-chasers’.

What struck me about this ‘conversation’ on vaping etiquette was how the vaping community is being split on such a polarising viewpoint. I would think that any of the puritans reading the article would be delighted to be reading such a thing. I have little doubt that already such people are excitedly sending emails and memos to other in their clique on ways they can exploit the situation to drive a further wedge between vapers. ‘Divide & Conquer’ is the phrase we are discussing here.

I have to admit that this whole debacle on ‘vaping etiquette’ seriously pisses me off. On the one hand we have plenty of good people out there campaigning and advocating for tolerance to vapers, but on the other hand we have many of those same people screaming intolerance towards vapers who prefer to cloud chase. This simply has to stop.

When I sat on the board of the NNA, the first rumblings of this so-called ‘vaping etiquette’ came to my attention. I made it clear at the time that I had my reservations about developing an etiquette around vaping, but I was in the minority. I left the NNA in the Summer of last year, but keep on following (and supporting) the excellent work they do for vaping advocacy. Since that time, the NNA have put out posters around vaping etiquette. I couldn’t get behind it when I was a part of the NNA, and I still cannot get behind that campaign now. It makes me uneasy and, in my humble opinion, is unnecessarily alienating large portions of the vaping community.

I will admit it. I am an unashamedly proud cloud-chaser. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the ability to blow mahoosive clouds of vapour (I can do that quite easily and have many ‘drippers’ that I can build to make clouds that would make even the biggest cloud-chasers jealous). No, the reason I am a ‘cloud-chaser’ is because that is how I actually enjoy my vaping. These days, I rarely build any drippers, preferring instead to use one of the plethora of sub-ohm tank devices that I can easily buy the coils for online. It is easier and so cheap that there is little point in building coils these days. I still occasionally build a coil and ‘drip’, but that is more for keeping my hand in on my ability to build coils. And there is the whole point. All vapers have different preferences, be it flavour, nicotine content, VG/PG mix, power or cloud density. There is no right or wrong way to vape. You vape because you enjoy it and you vape because you have chosen to use an alternative to smoking.

I happen to enjoy filling my lungs up with enormous amounts of vapour and blowing out huge clouds. I don’t do it to annoy anyone. I do it because that is how I enjoy the vape. I could not give a single shit about impressing anyone with the massive clouds. It is just a cloud and, more to the point, it is harmless to me and harmless to anyone around me.

Do you really think the puritans care about whether you are blowing massive clouds or small wisps ?

Of course they don’t. All they see is a ‘filthy nicotine addict’ enjoying himself and, in their eyes, circumventing the smoking ban. Even when you barely blow out any vapour at all, such puritans will still ‘tut-tut’ in their corner and give you disgusted looks. Many of them, emboldened by prod-noses like ASH, will even pluck up the courage to get in your face about it. It is what our world has become in that regardless of what you do to enjoy yourself, there will always be some curtain-twitcher who will disapprove of your habit. Maybe even emboldened enough to start (yet another) campaign group which will campaign to lobby politicians to take away yet more of the freedoms that we used to take for granted in this country. We have fought wars to protect such liberties many times in our past, only to now slowly give away more and more of our liberties to the permanently offended. You can see it most clearly in all the campaigns against tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt, fast-food etc. The list is ever growing and if we are not careful there will be a future where everything you eat, drink or choose to do will be carefully regulated by the State.

It really is that simple. A vaping etiquette that disapproves of a vaper that blows out larger vapour clouds makes as much sense as pub alienating spirit-drinkers because beer drinkers are a nicer crowd (or vice-versa). The only way that tolerance will come back to the general public is to make people realise that vaping poses no threat. By toning down the vaping habit/choices all you are doing is pandering to, and reinforcing, the already entrenched view amongst many of the general public that vaping is dangerous.

I will end this blog with an anecdote (yes, I used that ‘much abused’ word).

Many of you will know that I own a caravan that is situated by the sea down in sunny West Wales. When I first bought that caravan, I would frequently be found in the early evening at local bar near the site. When I first started going to that bar, the weather was gloriously sunny and I was quite content to sit out in the beer garden with my pint of Strongbow and a vape. As it turned out, there were lots of other caravan owners on the same site as me who also frequented that bar. As often happens, when vapers identify other vapers, we all started graduating toward each other and chatting because we all had something in common – we all vaped. The age-range of this group was startling. We had some guys (and gals) in their early twenties, right through the age range to the oldest of us who was 85. We dominated the beer garden as a large group. The range of devices we used showed great variety too. Some were using simple cigalikes, some box mods and/or MTL devices, whilst others (like me) preferred to use high-powered cloud-machines. Anyway, after several weeks, the bar owner approached us in the beer garden and informed us that he had no issue with any of us vaping inside the bar itself. You see, he had seen the trade we were bringing in because we had become an informal group (which was attracting more and more), meeting up as often as possible to chat and drink (and vape) . Anyway, this went on for several months, until one day we discovered that the bar owner was selling up and that new owners would soon be in place. The new owners were not at all vape-friendly and we were immediately exiled to the beer garden – just as the weather began to cool as Autumn crept in. Not wanting to sit in a cold (and wet) beer garden to chat, drink and vape, we all stopped going the bar and instead started meeting at each others caravans to chat, drink and vape instead. The bar had instantly lost a huge proportion of its best customers. Last month, I discovered that the bar had closed down after the Christmas period had failed to save their dwindling profits. All that happened because they alienated their best customers – the vapers.

Closing Comment

The vaping community has come a long way over the last couple of years. We have successfully fended off many bans and made our voices felt in the corridors of power in  the European Union, USA, Australia, New Zealand (and many others) as well as closer to home in the UK. To spoil that progress by dividing the vape community now would be a disaster. Do not alienate other vapers just because they enjoy vaping in a different way than you do. That is simply showing the same intolerance towards fellow vapers that you have accused the Public Health community (and Government) of showing towards vaping in general. It is counterproductive and WRONG. Most vapers I have met consider themselves to be libertarians. 


No comments:

Post a Comment