While the State of Pennsylvania has not yet gotten around to regulating the sale of vaping devices or e-liquid in any way on a statewide basis (though various local municipalities have taken matters into their own hands), a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about Pittsburgh “e-cigarette culture” highlights one of the aspects of the vaping industry that I’ve been talking about for ages: its tendency for self-regulation. What I’ve noticed over and over again is that the people who have something at stake in the future of vaping (i.e. current vapers, vape shop owners, vaping activists, etc.) have rarely taken advantage of the laxity of vaping regulations by, say, selling e-cigs to minors or failing to stick to respectable manufacturing practices for the manufacture of e-liquids.
Though convenience store owners will often flout common sense in order to make a quick buck by selling vapes to people under 18 where the law doesn’t prohibit it, this kind of behavior is practically unseen among serious vape shops, where self-regulation is a way of ensuring continued survival, as well as a duty to the customers themselves. Vapers know full well that in order for vaping to not be relegated to the same status as cigarettes from a legislative perspective, they need to put on their best faces in order to fight stereotypes about their efforts to appeal to kids and the overall greed of the industry.
And this is why, at this weekend’s Vaping Convention Circuit in Pittsburgh, only people 18 years of age and older will be allowed to attend, though there is nothing in Pennsylvania or Pittsburgh law that would prohibit younger teens from attending. This practice mirrors the practices of most vape shops around Pittsburgh, where despite there being no laws against selling vapor products to younger teens, owners are vehemently opposed to doing so. Self-regulation in the vaping industry, though, does not end at the enforcement of age limits. Many e-liquid manufacturers, for instance, also impose strict manufacturing standards on themselves, ensuring that their products are as safe as possible despite the lack of standardization prevalent in the industry.
What this tendency toward self-regulation shows, to me, is that there is a huge segment of the vaping industry that is extremely community oriented; this makes sense, given that vaping started as, and still is, a way of addressing a massive public health crisis, and vaping advocacy goes hand in hand with anti-tobacco advocacy, which is clearly a community oriented movement.
The self-regulation of the Pittsburgh Vaping Convention Circuit will hopefully set people’s minds at ease about the convention, allowing vapers to enjoy the benefits of such a convention without dealing with the stigma often associated with an event like that. According to the Post-Gazette, “the convention will offer advocacy sessions, nonprofit raffles, battery safety classes and vendor booths.” Sounds pretty fun. If I were anywhere near there, I would probably attend.