There are a number of reasons why e-cigs are currently the focus of so much attention. But whatever happens over the next few months, they are here to stay and they need ushering in properly, need to be regulated and accepted.
This means thinking about society, and the biggest issue in society about e-cigs may well not be their health benefits, or lack of them, or their safety overall. Instead, it may be all about social vaping.
Because there is one thing that, when push comes to shove, people are still divided over. We can accept that people want to vape as a society, and we can accept that the devices are here.
What society will find hard to accept is public vaping, everywhere, all the time. This is an issue that recently flared up when New York City decided to ban vaping in a number of public places. This included bars and other venues where people generally want to have a good time. And vape.
Julian Morris, the editor of Reason, which some view as a ‘libertarian’ magazine, had this to say on the night of a huge ‘vape-in’ to celebrate New York’s ban:
“Here we have an example of unsound science or no science being used to justify an extreme restriction on people’s freedom that will harm others,”
One of the main reasons why vaping is not socially acceptable indoors yet is of course linked to the image that vapers have when they vape. Let’s face it, most of the devices look at least a little like a cigarette, and a plume of ‘smoke’ is released. Even if you are not against vaping, you can’t help but think about smoking when you see someone do it. And if it is indoors, well, it just might feel a little bit wrong.
But there are ways around this. We don’t necessarily want to see scores of people vaping down at the public library, but because there are a ton of issues around vaping that are simply unexplored, we also think there is a middle ground that needs to be followed.
The smoking argument and why it doesn’t fit with vaping
Why was smoking indoors in public places banned in the first place? Because it was dangerous. People didn’t want to be around smokers because the smoke that these cigarettes produced was dangerous. On top of all of that, people didn’t want to be around smokers because they smelled and the smoke left smells in everyone’s clothes. Also, smoking got busted. Everyone realised just how dangerous it was to smoke a cigarette, and the less visible smoking was the better everyone felt. All of that was a great leap forward for the human race. If there is danger and threat present, then it makes sense to remove it from the public domain. But that’s where current issues don’t quite match up. Using an electronic cigarette is not comparable to using a tobacco cigarette. The danger and threat from tobacco cigarettes was clear. If there is anything that is wrong with electronic cigarettes, nothing has been stated through research that proves this. An electronic cigarette manufacturer worth his or her salt will be the first to put their hands up and ask for research into the potential dangers of their devices. But no such dangers have yet been found or documented. But some restrictions on public e-cigs are necessary
So electronic cigarettes don’t quite meet up to the requirements of a ban. You’re only supposed to ban something if it is dangerous or sufficiently unpleasant to cause concern and worry in the bystander. This is where we come in on the side of restrictions to some extent. We feel that if people find electronic cigarettes unpleasant then there is a middle ground that can be reached. Having areas where people can vape, out of the way of people who are not vaping, makes sufficient sense to us. It’s happened at airports, and at football stadiums. If people can be protected from electronic cigarette vapour by creating specific areas where vapers can do what they need to do, this solves the problem. And we can see this happening in the future. Electronic cigarettes are not going away, and they are growing massively month-by-month when it comes to usage. So rather then ban the problem outright and stop vapers from doing what they want to do in public places, let’s have reason and common sense and allow vapers to have areas. Give them a section of a restaurant or a bar where they can quickly go and use their electronic cigarette, before returning to their social life.This will be the biggest battle for vapers in the end. The industry is not going to be gotten rid of; in fact it can only be accommodated. So we see more problems down the line regarding social vaping. Once that final hurdle has been overcome, electronic cigarettes and their users will have nothing more to fear.