Can you imagine thousands of “fan” sites, or “affiliate review sites”, or even great publications like Spinfuel eCigs Magazine, covering everything you wanted to know about Winston, Marlboro, Pall Malls, and so on? Can you imagine people spending a fair portion of their day reading forum posts about how someone applied a custom paint job to their Marlboro Hard Pack? I could go on with plenty of analogies but I think we get it. Of course not!

No one would be silly enough to think that people would spend time and money building websites and communities, put on festivals, and so forth, that talk about their favorite brand of cigarette. No one would go to a “smoke-fest” where you brought with you your favorite pack of smokes and compared different brands and otherwise meet a lot of new people, catch up with old friends. It just wouldn’t happen. My god, could you imagine the smell of such a place? Like an old bar from the 70’s, with a low-level cloud of cigarette smoke that turns your clothes into smelly, yellow-tainted garments that never get clean.

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(I would think that each year these smoke-fests would spend more and more time mourning those that died of lung cancer since the last smoke-fest rather than celebrate their favorite brands… but anyway…)

I know I’m preaching to choir on this one, but just in case there are new readers here (Hello Big Tobacco! Welcome FDA! Good Morning Federal Workers!), this is the article I said I’d write about the ‘hobby’ of vaping.

Vaping – A Definition

Since there is no “legal” or generally known definition of vaping, allow me to provide one:

Vaping “The act of inhaling vaporized nicotine, flavorings, propylene glycol with or without vegetable glycerin, or vice versa.”

While the definition of the “Hobby of Vaping” would go more like this:

Vaping, The Hobby of: – “The process of enjoying one’s self, alone or with others, through the act of acquiring the newest hardware, sorting and collecting new flavors and brands of eLiquid, comparing flavor and vapor production of various hardware and eLiquid, combined and recombined in new and interesting ways. The ‘experiencing’ of joy when discovering a new piece of hardware or a new eLiquid brand or flavor…

The joy that comes from gathering various hardware, eLiquid, and accessories for the sole purpose of engaging in a pleasurable experience and sharing that experience through ‘meet ups’, forum posting and readin;, commenting on other people’s experience and/or wisdom as it relates to the subject matter.” – An adjective, A verb, “VA-Ping”.

Until some official authority provides a definition that doesn’t define the word as “slang” for “smoking nicotine and PG/VG with flavoring”, I’m going to use the above definitions whenever I need to.

So, while Vaping is the act, the Hobby of Vaping is our all-encompassing passion as it relates to chasing the ultimate setup, and experiencing the best combination of hardware and software (eLiquid), over and over again. Because it’s fun.

I believe, wholeheartedly, that the joy we receive between the “act” and the “hobby” of Vaping is equally shared. That it is just as much fun to vape eLiquid with our favorite hardware and software, as it is to collect and acquire new hardware and software. I know it is for me.

Sure, I understand that not everyone is going to buy into my definitions or agree with belief that one or the other provides any joy. Some may actually believe that Vaping is all about subduing the monster called “nicotine addiction”. I don’t.

I’m a big hobby guy. Over the past many years I’ve ‘collected’ all kinds of things; from the original Star Trek trading cards, to collecting cameras, watches, Mont Blanc Pens, Action Figures (They are NOT toys!), and much more. While I still maintain many of these ‘hobbies’ the one I am most involved in now (because of my job I suppose) is the hobby of vaping.

I love reading about vaping hardware. I love to acquire that hardware, display it in my home, organize it and organize it again…and again. I love keeping them dust-free. I love learning all the neat tricks, or the “Easter eggs” you find in new hardware. I love trying other people’s eJuice whether it comes from a million dollar facility or someone’s very clean kitchen.

I love comparing RY4’s, or Root Beer Floats, Coconut creations, Pineapple, and yes, various tobacco flavored eLiquid. I’m currently searching for the perfect Pina Colada (Thanks for that Blu!), and I love writing about it all (I’m loving the act of writing this very piece!).

What I’m getting at here, after 750+ words, is that Vaping is so much more than Big Tobacco or the FDA, or even current tobacco smokers, think it is. And that will make a big difference when it comes to the “looming” regulations that will be handed down from the “nanny-stateFDA. And I believe, completely, 100% believe, that if Big Tobacco and the FDA do not soon understand that there are millions of us that think of Vaping in the ways I’ve outlined above, they are going to overreact to the ‘risks’ and lay down a lot of unnecessary rules and laws that will prevent us from doing much of the things we love to do with our hobby.

It could be placing exorbitant taxes on the hardware and eLiquids, or it could be overly strict laws on the manufacture of vaping hardware, or it could be downright bans on all of it (though Big Tobacco is getting close to adopting eCigarettes so that would prevent those at the FDA to ban them… you know, money. Lots of money.) that bring down the eCig movement. It’s up to all of us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Invite Scrutiny

I am all for this government, or Big Tobacco (since they seem to be invested in both politicians and eCigarettes) coming in and running all the studies they want on eCigarettes and the vapor that comes from vaporizing eLiquids because I know too many success stories, improvements in health, and the happiness vaping brings to 3 million people.

Despite my belief in the smallest, least intrusive government possible, I’m all for setting up rules for people that make the products we use. What I am against is taxing it as tobacco, making it difficult to buy or use, and otherwise getting in my face about what I choose to do. And to get where “I” want to go Vapers cannot “go gentle into that good night”.

Supportive Organizations

Now I know this part is going to wind up causing me a lot of grief, but I really need to say this; It’s time that those organizations that we all donate to (and you know which ones I mean) get with the program and rethink their missions.

We need to stop trying to get non-smokers and government types to see Vaping or eCigarettes as something ‘medical’ (smoking cessation) or a ‘nicotine delivery system’ (safer than smoking), and realize it for what it is; a safe, and fun hobby.

These organizations that supposedly (and hey, maybe they do) represent you and your interests, need to understand “us” better. Do they know the joys of the ‘hobby of vaping’? Do they share that hobby? Do they want to see the hobby of vaping grow or are they simply interested in getting the government to see that vaping is the best way to get people off tobacco? These things DO matter. Keep in mind that those insurance companies that cover nicotine patches as a smoking cessation product only cover 1 or 2 “cessation periods” a year. Do we really want to eCigarettes to be considered as smoke cessation products? How many people do you know that went from tobacco to eLiquid to nothing?

First Things First

I guess the thing that people who want to ban vaping believe is that vaping might be dangerous. If it is I’d like to know about that, wouldn’t you? So why isn’t the vaporization of the components in eLiquid being studied by the FDA? It can’t take that long folks. And I’m not talking about what happens 20 years out. If it’s dangerous than finding out if the vaporization of PG or VG and the flavorings used in the production of eLiquid produces certain “changed” chemicals that can be identified as carcinogenic than tell us.

The organizations that are supposed to keep Vaping legal should be funding some medical or scientific facility somewhere to find out what happens when eLiquid is vaporized. No? Do that first, and if the vapor isn’t carcinogenic then move on.

There are much more dangerous things out there than vaping eLiquid. Hell, my doctor tells me that my habit of drinking 8-10 Diet Caffeine Free Coke is more harmful than vaping. If that’s true why isn’t the FDA controlling Soda? Oops, wait, they just might.

My currently held belief is that if there was anything harmful about vaping it would have shown up by now. Someone, somewhere, would have been able to make a connection between vaping and heart attacks, or cancer, or hypertension even. Since there hasn’t been a peep from those that want to outlaw eCigarettes I’m inclined to believe that Vaping isn’t harmful… in the least.

Encourage the Hobby

Do you remember what happened when people discovered personal computing? The Mac? Or how about the Internet? Cell Phones? Flat-screen TV’s? CD’s and DVD’s? The market exploded, jobs were created, industries sprang up, and money was made. America and the world took a big leap forward with each of these explosions in interest for these devices. The same can happen with the Vaping explosion.

American Made

ProVape, one of my favorite companies, makes their hardware right here in the US. Totally Wicked has begun manufacturing hardware for their eCigarettes (The Odyssey) in the UK. If the hobby is given the green light, or at least the knowledge that vaping isn’t going to be exorbitantly taxed out of existence, the hobby of vaping will cause many US companies to come alive or pop into existence by building our hardware here, just as we are all moving to American Made eLiquid and away from Chinese eJuice.

Private sector jobs need to be created by the millions. We might not create that many jobs by moving the manufacturing of eCigs and other hardware here to the US but we can create thousands, maybe tens of thousands. That can’t be a bad thing. And wouldn’t you rather pay $1 more for a US made product than give $4 in taxes for the government to use in the most unimaginably stupid ways? You see, this stuff really matters.

Desensitize Non-Smokers

Desensitizing non-smoker is important. Too many of them relate vaping to smoking tobacco, and its nothing like it. People swear they smell cigarettes when someone is vaping around them. You know they’re wrong, but they refuse to think otherwise. We need the above organizations, as well as ourselves, to begin to educate non-smokers so that they realize that vaping is not smoking and that we are doing nothing wrong. It is no more intrusive than drinking a can of soda while riding in a bus, a plane, or an automobile.

You and I can start by approaching our friends that do not smoke or vape, and ask them to participate in an experiment. Tell them that you want to sit about 10 feet away from them and vape. Tell them to let you know the minute they feel sick or smell tobacco. When they don’t, ask them politely if you can come closer. Then closer still. In a matter of half an hour you’ll wind up sitting next to them vaping away and they won’t mind. I’ve done it with a couple in the 80’s that HATE cigarettes, so I know it can be done.

Take your vaping to the public. I’m not saying that you should take your Provari or VTube out in public, right away. That could freak people out. It’s too foreign to them. Get a mini-eCig that looks nothing like a cigarette (black, green, red or blue battery that lights up with a blu tip or some other color than orange) and walk the malls, on ride the train or bus, walk around in an office building. If you are approached by some disgruntled person speak kindly and calmly, jovial even, and inform them that what you are doing is “new”, “fun”, “delicious” and most of all “safe”. Tell them that they should “Try it”. You might be surprised when you fight for your rights with a jovial attitude rather than confrontational. Don’t scream at them and tell them to mind their own damned business. That only cements their disgust toward vaping…and you.

Winding Up

It doesn’t matter if you are the type of “Vaper” who simply uses eCigs as a way to stay away of “analog” cigarettes, or if you’re like me, a hobbyist. In either case the things I am suggesting help both types of Vapers.

I don’t have any hard numbers but I’m wiling to bet that most people who successfully get off tobacco and onto vaping do not eventually walk away from it. Once you get off tobacco, once you start to enjoy vaping, you get into it, you have fun with it. You don’t want to stop. And you shouldn’t have to.

When were smoking cigarettes ever fun? When you were a teenager? When it was illicit to smoke, dangerous looking? Cool? As an adult we all know that thinking cigarettes are any of those things is foolish. Vaping is different, and people need to know.

You have to admit that vaping IS fun. It is enjoyable. We derive a lot of pleasure from loading up a cartomizer or a tank with our favorite eJuice and sitting back, taking deep inhalations, letting the flavor flow through our mouth and into our lungs. And when that huge plume of vapor escapes through our lips and through our nose we feel great. Why would you want to give that up?

The hobby of vaping offers dozens of positives, from the personal level all the way to the community level. I’m totally into vaping now, and many of you are too. This is a ‘good’ thing; don’t let it get taken away over some misguided, ill-informed non-smoker. Together we can educate them, and I imagine, even bring some of them to the world of vaping.

Vaping is a great hobby, especially with the state of the world these days. I would love to hear from our readers in the comments below about your thoughts on vaping and the hobby of vaping. Disagreements are as welcome as agreeing with me. Let’s start the dialog here. And everywhere.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. Apparently we have to begin preparations for the potential of a Hurricane coming our way.

John Manzione