If it’s okay with you all, I’d like to vent a little.
I have several friends that think I’m a liar. Sure, they have some very good reasons to think so. But, because I quit smoking way back in 2008 and took up vaping shortly after, they dismiss my commitment to ridding myself of tobacco, like I never actually made an effort to become “smoke-free.”
Let me reiterate to them: I do not smoke. I vape.
This problem – viewing vaping as just another form of smoking – lies at the heart of all vitriol attacking e-cigarettes. They adhere to even the most ill-conceived “studies”, regardless of data validity, and profess it as truth.
A New York Times article showing a study in which cells reacted the same to vapor as cigarette smoke, shows just how far these people will go in their attempts at banning e-cigs.
[SPOILER ALERT: Those cells discussed in the article also reacted the same way to plain old air. Nice finding from the former kings of “fit to print.”]
Trying to convince someone that vaping is entirely different than smoking is near impossible. However, if vapers are ever to be treated with a modicum of decency, it’s imperative that we make sure they understand how e-cigs work.
At first glance it’s easy to look at someone puffing an e-cig and immediately determine that person is smoking, especially if they are vaping a standard-sized e-cig with a glowing tip. Vapor from an e-cigarette is nearly identical to smoke, at least visually.
So What Exactly Separates "Vaping" From “Smoking?”
Have a pen ready? Because I’m about to impart some obvious, unnecessary wisdom on you, friends. Smoking involves the burning of tobacco, either in the form of a cigarette, cigar, pipe, or whatever other contraption certain flea markets sell from a back room.
In order to get smoke you have to burn something, right? When someone puts a cigarette, cigar, or pipe in their mouth it’s usually followed by the use of a lighter, and then using that lighter to start a controlled burn of the tobacco.
How about this curveball? If you see someone in the process of using chewing tobacco, you don’t consider him or her to be smoking, right? Smoking a cigarette, pipe, or cigar is considerably closer to chewing tobacco and snus, because it actually contains tobacco.
Vaping, on the other hand, has nothing to do with tobacco. In fact, I would venture to say if nicotine is the sole reason people relate e-cigs and tobacco, then I counter by saying that vaping is just as related to eating a nice, juicy eggplant. Yep, eggplant has naturally occurring nicotine (placing it alongside broccoli, bell peppers, and other vegetables that run with a bad crowd and hang out under high school bleachers).
Related: Where Does Nicotine Come From?
In fact, it’s the same chemical makeup of nicotine as the tobacco plant. So, what’s the difference? If it were currently possible to produce enough nicotine by using dried broccoli instead of tobacco plants I wonder if people would still consider e-cigarettes a tobacco product? Of course they would.
Also consider customers that only use nicotine-free vapes. Are they also using a “tobacco-related” product? Is this still smoking?
No it’s not. But take a look at any of the countless bills looking to ban e-cigarettes, and you’ll see the words “tobacco-related,” even though it’s as far removed from smoking as your local restaurant’s salad bar.
In the end, this argument, like so many others, comes down to education. When someone comments about you “smoking” your e-cig, be sure to correct them and explain why they may have misunderstood. Only then will this perception begin to fade.