• Vapeholes Angry About “Vapeholes”? Don’t Be

    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.

    Happy vaping!

  • Portland maine Portland, Maine Bans Public Vaping

    Since the FDA is set to settle upon an electronic cigarette management policy relatively soon, many states appear to have eased up a little on the battle against vaping. Presumably, the thought is that imminent federal action would render their efforts obsolete anyway, so there is no use engaging in political struggles over vaping right now. Better to let the federal government take on that burden. Smaller political units, on the other hand, have continued to pass and enact anti-vaping ordinances at the same rates as before. This is for instance the case in Portland, Maine, where the city council recently adopted an ordinance banning people from using electronic cigarettes in public places. Portland joins 274 other cities across the US that have adopted similar limitations on the use of vapes in public.

    Much like similar ordinances in other municipalities, the Portland ordinance prohibits smoking in places such as public parks, beaches, restaurants, and other shared public spaces. And, as always, the bill is not really grounded in anything but a false equivalence between smoking and vaping. Despite the continued lack of evidence of any risks associated with exposure to “second-hand vapor,” opposition to vaping remains strong among many segments of the US population. On the one hand, one might think that this is not much of a problem when it comes to city ordinances; after all, shouldn’t people be allowed to set whatever rules for communal living they settle upon, regardless of whether the grounds for opposition to a particular behavior are legitimate or not? On the other hand, one must remember that this is basically the definition of the tyranny of the majority, and that’s not consistent with American political ideals.

    But anyway, back to Portland. In the lead-up to the adoption of this ordinance, the Portland City Council heard several testimonies. Public Health Alliance representatives showed up to warn that vaping may or may not be better than smoking, and therefore should definitely be banished for all eternity; local vapers argued that vaping has helped many quit smoking, that it is immeasurably safer than smoking, and that it should be incentivized over smoking. Totally missing the point of it all, a City Councilor responded that the ordinance is “not any more restrictive than that over people who would be using cigarettes.” No one at all appeared to talk about the fact that opposing public vaping is like being strongly opposed to the public use of miniature fog machines. And so, after it was all said and done, Portland, Maine decided that baby fog machines are a serious threat to public health, and should be banished from public view.

    Despite having suffered a big hit, at the very least Maine vapers can celebrate having dodged a bullet with of the new ordinance’s provisions. Unlike some of the anti-vaping city ordinances we’ve seen pop up, the Portland ordinance does allow for a vape shop one exception. That’s something, I guess.

    Happy vaping!

  • This is the Metro. You can't vape here without dirty looks. Metro Vaping and the Wrath of the DC Yuppie

    The District of Columbia Council has repeatedly turned down initiatives to outlaw public vaping by redefining “smoking” to mean “smoking anything, including things that cannot be smoked, such as electronic cigarettes”, but that doesn’t mean that D.C. yuppies can’t shame everyone who engages in vaping in public. Yesterday morning, a concerned D.C. citizen, Barry Jackson, disapprovingly gazed on a young man vaping on the Metro, and tweeted this: “Now I’ve seen everything. A college-age kid, vaping while seated on a Metro train. Dude this isn’t your dorm room.” Leaving aside questions about what kind of life this man has led that makes it such that this event constitutes having seen it all, I have to wonder whether, even if the vaper was perhaps a little rude to not take into account other people’s ignorance and unfounded worries about their own safety, Barry didn’t end up being at least as rude as he imagined the vaper to be himself.

    Somehow, the Washington Post has picked up on this non-story, and, for the second time in two years, published an article on vaping in the Metro, specifically asking whether the vaper was acting within the confines of the law. As was the case two years ago, vaping in the Metro is still perfectly legal, as neither D.C. itself, nor Maryland and Virginia, have yet instituted any laws against indoor or public vaping. Nor should they, some might argue, as so far studies have repeatedly failed to show that second-hand aerosol places people in any kind of danger. While low levels of nicotine might be put out into ambient air by vapers, it is a little ridiculous to claim that one’s clothes possibly coming into contact with aerosolized nicotine is reason enough to inflict a restriction on someone’s freedom to vape in public.

    As I mentioned before, this isn’t the first time the Washington Post has posted an article on vaping on the Metro. In fact, around two years ago, a nearly identical article was written by John Kelly. In both articles, the writers lament that the Virginia Attorney General refused to rule that electronic cigarettes should be subject to the same prohibitions as tobacco cigarettes in 2010. Apparently, the hope is to make enough of a fuss about the plumes of vapor innocent citizens are forced to witness in various public places that even if laws banning public vaping don’t get passed, vapers will feel too shamed to take advantage of their freedoms relative to tobacco product smokers.

    A quick look at the comment section on the Washington Post article shows that most people appear to agree with the initial tweet. Seemingly, it is totally acceptable to subject vapers to the tyranny of the majority simply because vaping in enclosed public spaces might be an annoyance to some, who prefer their Metro air to be ultra-fresh and entirely devoid of contaminants of any kind. I would think that a better idea for getting fresh air entirely free of contaminants would be to head up to the Catskills for the weekend, but who am I to give advice? Sometimes I vape.

    Happy vaping!