Are You Ashamed of Vaping?


This is a serious question; Are you ashamed to be a Vaper? Think about your answer for a minute before you respond. After you’ve thought about it, after you’ve finished reading this, I would love it if you could post your answer below in the comments.

You see, for many Vapers switching to electronic cigarettes comes at a pretty late stage of a person’s smoking habit. I would venture to say, by anecdotal evidence only, that Vapers are, for the most part, past the age of 35. Many have worried about the damage smoking was causing them and rather than stopping altogether, for whatever reason, they instead began “smoking” electronic cigs instead of quitting nicotine. But why am I telling you this? You may be one of them.

As someone who is older than I care to admit, I remember the times before smokers were considered low class, uneducated, blue collar, and inconsiderate slobs that they are considered to be today. I remember the days when even the best people smoked on TV shows, in movies, in restaurants or planes…everywhere. You weren’t judged for smoking, it was just something you did. Along with millions of others.

Never mind that these horrible descriptions above are erroneous, they are indeed the names used to describe people who enjoy tobacco cigarettes, cigars, and even pipes (though pipe smokers are more often described as academics). These slurs are unfair, insulting, and wrong, but there they are. And what about you? Do you, as a Vaper, see a smoker and often think these very same things? Do you see someone smoking a cigarette and utter under your breath “loser”?

When you smoked, whether you knew it or not, people said these things about you, and if you smoked in public these things were said about you many times a day. I know this to be true because I quit cigarettes in 1992 and started vaping in 2011. All my friends were non-smokers; most of them were people that never picked up the habit. And they could be vicious when they walked by someone smoking. My wife smoked though, she smoked right up until March 2010, and so for me it was never about calling people names. As an ex-smoker living with a smoker how could I muster up such nastiness against my own kind? But others? Those that never smoked, we were second-class citizens for sure.

Although there is never a good reason to be vicious toward someone, there are legitimate reasons to get upset when you share a cab, sit next to, or otherwise share the same space as someone who has either just finished smoking a cigarette or is currently smoking a cigarette. Be honest here; they stink. Cigarette smoke, after it settles on a living breathing person, is rank. So while you’re being an asshole when you call someone a name, give them the stink-eye, or even embarrass them because they are stinking up the air you need to breathe, it’s almost impossible to think pleasant things about the person. It’s a lot like riding up in an elevator with a flatulent-happy co-rider. It’s just not fun.

As Vapers we are much more pleasant to be around, at least according to non-smokers anyway. We don’t stink of tobacco and we don’t cause anyone to hold his or her breath, or force anyone to walk ahead of us to avoid the smell. Non-smokers get pretty much the same experience standing next to you and me as they do with someone that doesn’t smoke.

Sadly it doesn’t there.

If you vape in public enough you’ve surely experienced non-smokers claiming that you are ‘stinking up the place’, or ‘spewing smoke everywhere. It happens all too often, especially in restaurants and other places where people are grouped up. Buses, elevators, standing in line, and other places and/or situations are volatile when you are actively vaping. So much so that most of us don’t do it. Like smoking, we have been conditioned to hide it, to disown it, to keep it secret. Since we no longer have any giveaways (that smell) we can interact with non-smokers with complete immunity. And we do.

So, I ask again, are you ashamed of vaping? Can you be a proud Vaper and still be a closeted Vaper?

Would it be wrong of me to say that if you aren’t a proud Vaper it’s because, like anti-smokers (who are very different than non-smokers), you too believe vaping is ‘smoking’ and there is virtually no difference between the two, save for a few thousand chemicals? I don’t know the answer to this, I’m sincerely asking you.

True Story

Because it has been 2 decades since I quit smoking everyone that knew me when I began vaping were shocked that I had picked up smoking again. “Oh my God! After HOW many years?” or “I cannot BELIEVE you started smoking again!”… These statements were hurled at me for weeks on end; sometimes friends or associates would say these things to me over and over again, surely as a way to convince me to stop. Only I had no intention of stopping because I never felt like I was doing anything wrong. I definitely didn’t feel like a smoker. Maybe it’s because it has been many years since I bought a pack of Winston Lights that I couldn’t relate to smoking and vaping as being the same thing. I’m not sure.

When I began my ‘adventures in vaping’, as I like to call this period in my life, I was immediately struck by how much fun it was. I never vaped as a way to satisfy a craving because I didn’t have any. I enjoyed it because I loved to blow smoke rings, I loved to send the vapor up my nose, through my mouth, and create a huge cloud of vapor in front of me. That was the physical fun of vaping. But I also loved the taste of the eLiquids. Even when I was vaping the mini-batteries and with prefilled cartomizers I enjoyed the taste of Blu Cigs. And man oh man, when I graduated to larger batteries and real eLiquids which I dripped into blank cartomizers and then tanks, and then clearomizers, and on and on, I just fell in love with it. With so many flavors to experience I began vaping pretty much around the clock. I loved every minute of it. Still do.

So, when my friends confronted me, yelled at me, all I could manage to do was ask them to try it, to tell them how much fun it was, and then, when I was frustrated enough with their constant hassles I told them in no uncertain words that what I was doing had nothing to do with smoking, that the ingredients shared nothing with tobacco, except for nicotine, and that to compare the two was very much akin to comparing taking vitamins and swallowing ecstasy. In other words, smoke is smoke, vapor is vapor, and their comparisons were ignorant and unwanted.

Today, my life is full with vaping. My wife and I vape between 8-12 milliliters a day each, and I vape between 4 to 6 flavors a day (my wife vapes only one flavor at a time). And we vape everywhere, in the doctors office, in the grocery store, in restaurants, at the beach, while we work, while we relax, and right before we go to bed.

I share this thing called vaping with smokers and non-smokers as well. I can’t count the number of non-smokers I’ve turned on to vaping. Even if they don’t want or require nicotine, I get them to try it, to taste the incredible flavors, to enjoy the plumes of vapor, to enjoy the pleasures of this most amazing thing. Some, not many, but some, have actually gone on to invest in a PV and a variety of zero-nicotine eLiquids and vape for the pure pleasure of it.

And I make it a point to educate those around me that might think this has anything to do with smoking. So far there hasn’t been anyone I couldn’t get to come around and at least try it. And the thing that brings most of them around? Stress relief. A most delicious stress reliever that causes no harm to person or environment. Fun, maybe even ‘joyous’ at times, vaping is the one hobby my wife and I enjoy together. And it is most definitely an enjoyable way to relax.

One of the few times anyone has ever said anything to me about vaping in public was this middle-aged woman who stared at me while we both waited for our individual appointments at my doctors office. She said to me “Do you have to do that in here?” I looked at her and simply said, “No, I don’t have to. But I want to. So I’m going to.” And then I added, feeling badly that I was kind of abrupt with her, “If you can honestly tell me that you can smell it, that it is somehow causing you personal discomfort or injury then I’ll stop.” She looked at me for a few seconds and the only thing she could muster was “Well, no, but it certainly can’t be good for you.”

Ah, but it certainly is good for me. It keeps me sane. But I didn’t say that, I just continued to enjoy my vape.

So for me, I am far from ashamed of vaping. What about you?

John Manzione