Attack of the Vapers: Happy Vapoversary!

VapoversaryVB

Despite conflicting arguments, bad press, and junk science working against the movement, more and more people are switching to vaping and electronic cigarettes. I have to loudly say, “Congratulations!” to all of those who have chosen to make a better choice for their health (Action on Smoking and Health, 2014) and their finances by switching from combustible toxicants to vaping and electronic cigarettes. So, good job to all of you!

We just attended the one-year vapoversary of a local establishment, Vapor Boss. I’ve not been to a vast number of vaping events, but I was truly impressed with the turn out for this one. It also made me happy because the folks who own and run this store (and a large portion of their regular patrons) are part of what I consider the responsible voices and presence in the world of vaping and electronic cigarettes.

As it happens this particular vapoversary corresponds with what will be a year free of combustible tobacco in my own home. Since that time, I have watched people I never expected to switch over move from trying to vaping occasionally to even becoming vaping enthusiasts and advocates. I’ve watched social media participants and interest groups become well-informed and take action to make vaping responsible and keep it viable. I have seen vapers and vendors alike become more knowledgeable and resources to their peers and customers. By no means have all obstacles and outcomes been measured, but I have truly been pleased with the fact that vaping has not been a trend or a fad but a true lifestyle change for a lot of people… and one that has been positive for the majority.

What are some of the contributing factors to vaping success?

Technology. Just from my own observation, I would have to say that one of the biggest contributing factors is that the technology has evolved… a lot… in a hurry… and continues to do so. Nothing keeps the modern day internet-and-tech-loving human connected to a trend like the advent of newer and better toys. I’m not kidding, and I don’t mean that in any way as a negative commentary. I’m pretty certain that the advances in mods (mechanical and digital), tanks, and drippers that not only improve the quality of vapor but also engage the ingenuity of the person vaping (not to mention the “shiny” factor) has kept many a dabbler interested long enough to become a full-time vaper. If everyone was still stuck with only the PG (propylene glycol)/PEG (polyethylene glycol) cartridge style e-cigs with no other option, I would bet my favorite mod that the people who have switched to full-time vape would probably be back on their combustible tobacco. No offense to the look-a-likes, but the quality of those original e-cigarettes was deplorable, and without the improvements that the industry has made, I seriously doubt that vapers would be at the 2.7 million strong population in the United States (not counting other countries that have also embraced the vape) that last tallies estimated (Statistic Brain, 2015).

E-juices. This is another area where innovation and human creativity/ingenuity has improved quality and made the industry more viable and given more longevity to the efforts of those making the choice to switch over to what proposes to be a healthier alternative to combustible tobacco. The elimination of PEG has improved quality and decreased some of the identified hazards of the initial electronic nicotine delivery systems. Flavor options, VG (vegetable glycerin) increase, and improved distilling have opened up new options for people and have given those starting on the vaping journey better and more varied choices to help them find what fits their tastes. Additionally, the fact that there are many creative vendors creating new flavors and custom blends has been a boon to the market and kept many a die-hard cigarette user from returning to the ashtray.

Responsibility. For all that people were up in arms about the government sticking their nose into their vaping lounges and taking away their right to flavors, so far, it has not happened. That is not to say that there will not ever be an imposed FDA regulation. It is likely that at some point, the federal government at the behest of lobbyists from the moneybags of corporate America (like big tobacco and big pharmacology) will start to impose tariffs and restrictions on the local markets and small businesses that may sting (a lot). However, one of the major movements that has probably staved off the “big brother” invasion for the time being is self-regulation by the vaping community. Responsible vendors and advocates have recognized that while most of the adult vaping community might be trusted to act in an appropriate way, not everyone who choses vaping for their nicotine delivery system is a responsible adult. As I said to another friend at the vapoversary today, “Irresponsible people are why we can’t have nice things.” (I might have used different words than “irresponsible people” but we won’t go into that.) What has truly been inspiring is how the vaping community has stepped up to self-regulate things like underage sale bans, the use of appropriate e-liquid containers, normalization of content and warning labels, and customer education. Organizations such as TSFA (TN Smoke-Free Association), CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association), and The Vaping Militia have stepped forward with other organizations to provide a voice of reason and advocacy by promoting safe practices and responsibility in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Are there still disreputable vendors out there who don’t care what the sell or whether anyone gets injured/ill from their products so long as they make a profit? Of course there are, but the community as a whole has stepped up in providing education and those types of businesses are starving out little by little as the customer base starts recognizing who they can and cannot trust.

Community support. Humans are social creatures, and whether we admit it or not (excepting, of course, certain antisocial or avoidant elements of society), we all appreciate a little peer support now and again. The prevalence of social media groups, local meet-ups, local and state advocacy groups, and YouTube channels have allowed for vapers to connect with each other for support, education, and organization. People are able to find out from other vapers the do’s and don’ts, vendors that can be trusted (and those who really shouldn’t be), the safety concerns of particular devices or practices, “cloud-chasing” tricks, and the latest concerns about “big brother.” That connection has helped spread the word and helped vaping be safer and more reputable. It has served to provide forum for all the previously mentioned factors.

So, my parting shot for this AOTV post is: Keep up the good work, vaping community! Congratulations to all of you who have done your homework and made informed choices. And last, but certainly not least… Happy Vapoversary!

Action on Smoking and Health. (November, 2014). Electronic cigarettes. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf

Statistic Brain. (February, 2015). Electronic Cigarette Statistics. http://www.statisticbrain.com/electronic-cigarette-statistics/

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