An attitude you are bound to encounter if you spend any time on electronic cigarette related forums is a severe animus against “vapeholes,” a title bestowed upon anyone from actual pricks who like to blow vapor into others’ faces – a type of person I have never met, but supposedly exists – to vapers who believe they should be allowed to vape in various venues where smoking is prohibited. Vapeholes are routinely blamed for public opposition to vaping, city ordinances outlawing vaping in public places, people’s ignorance when it comes to vaping as an alternative to smoking, and every other ill vapers have had to endure over the past few years. A common attitude on electronic cigarette forums seems to be that vapers should only vape where smoking is allowed, and any vaper who does otherwise is doing a disservice to the “vaping community” and is therefore a vapehole. Well, I strongly disagree. I am of the strong opinion that accommodating people’s irrational beliefs does more harm than good in rooting out these beliefs, and I believe that vapers should argue for their right to vape (respectfully) in most venues.
Before I delve a little deeper into my rant on this topic, let me just say that the “vapeholes” I will be defending here are not those who supposedly blow clouds of vapor into other people’s faces with zero provocation and walk around filling rooms with their massive clouds of their exhaled vapor. I see no use in even talking about that category of vapers, because in reality it’s not a category of vapers at all. For one thing, those people appear to be extremely rare, and they are certainly not overrepresented in the social circles that have been at the forefront of anti-vaping hysteria. How often do you think a mother shopping at JoAnn Fabrics in Sonoma County – the type of person most often opposed to vaping – encounters those vapeholes? For another thing, what unites the people who do that kind of stuff is not that they vape, but rather that they are general pricks; vaping is just another way for them to engage in their favorite pastime of enraging others.
In any case, my central issue with vapers’ opposition to vapeholes, where vapeholes refers to those who believe they should generally be permitted to vape indoors, is that acquiescing to requests not to vape from people worried about the health effects of second-hand vaping tacitly implies that the requesters’ worries are at least potentially justified. The right move there, even if you plan on acquiescing, is to inform whoever is complaining about your discreet vaping that second-hand vaping is demonstrably harmless, ideally pointing them to various credible sources that support your view (which is, like, all of them). That said, as members of a larger society, we often find ourselves in situations where we have to acquiesce to others’ irrational beliefs for various reasons; in those circumstances, vaping might not be such a good idea. Overall, though, I think vapeholes have the right idea. The default should not be not to vape where you wouldn’t smoke; vaping and smoking have completely separate second-hand effects, and conflating them will do nothing but perpetuate the idea that vaping and smoking carry all the same risks. The default should be not to vape where the annoying effects particular to vaping (i.e. smell and visible vapor) would cause an inconvenience to others.