Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Responsible vapers can give us reasonable regulations

Keep your vaping equipment in a safe place.
photo credit: Ozont via photopin cc

As vaping and electronic cigarettes appear in the media more and more frequently, the general public is starting to get more and more aware of them. Here in Norway at least, vaping is still pretty uncommon and until recently I've had to go to the mirror to see a vaper in this town. A while ago, say a year or so, most people here still had no personal experience with e-cigarettes and had no opinion about it... most people did not even know of their existence. Recently, I've noticed this starting to change. Still, I don't see a lot of people vaping when I go out, but I get the feeling that most people I talk to nowadays has heard of e-cigarettes, read about them in the news or know someone who uses them. Now keep in mind that electronic cigarettes with nicotine, and e-liquid with nicotine is banned here. We are allowed to import for personal use but still this means we are probably lagging a fair bit behind when it comes to e-cigarette awareness here.

Now it is still a fact that most people neither smoke nor vape. Most non-smokers however have an opinion on smoking as smoking not only affects the smoker but also everyone else who happens to be around. So the vast majority of non-smokers have negative attitude towards smoking (and smokers). Well some people don't really care I guess, so we might call them neutral, but I think it's pretty safe to say that almost none of the non-smokers have a positive attitude towards smoking. And, our politicians, who will write the laws on vaping is no exception. Most of them are also non-smokers, with the same attitudes as the rest of the population.

So where am I heading with all this? Well, as I said, most people still haven't really made up their mind when it comes to vaping and e-cigarettes, but they will soon. As vaping gains popularity it will become more and more visible to the general public. Non-smokers are unlikely to gain any first hand experience with vaping, so their attitude towards it will be largely influenced by the media, by the way e-cigarette manufacturers and vendors advertise their products and (until the TPD is turned into law) are able to show responsibility by self regulating, but maybe most of all by the vapers turning up around them. We, as vapers, are in a way responsible for the way the rest of the population feels about vaping, and whether the negative attitude towards smoking is transferred to vaping. Responsible vapers and a responsible e-cigarette industry will also influence how the media covers the topic.

Being a responsible vaper isn't very hard. It hardly requires any effort at all, it's all just common sense. Some examples:
  • Don't leave your vaping gear and e-liquid unattended in reach of children. Children love to play with things, and will see your gear as toys they can explore. E-liquid with fruity tastes will of course smell and look tempting as well and we do not need reports of nicotine poisoned children.
  • Pets are like children. They play around with all kinds of stuff they find around the house and there has already been reports of cute little puppies dying from chewing on e-liquid bottles. We don't want that either.
  • Show respect for rules and other people. If you want to vape inside a bar, a restaurant or in other peoples houses, ask first if it is ok. And if you get a no, respect that. If you do, and politely give the owner of the bar, house or restaurant some pointers on where to get more information about vaping, next time you come back they may have changed their mind.
  • Don't blow your vapour straight into peoples faces... unless they actually ask to smell it :) Even though we, as vapers, and many others as well, find the smell of a lot of our vapour pleasant, not everyone does. Some people may also have unpleasant reactions to the vapour.
  • Take some time think about how you want to present e-cigarettes and vaping to others, and learn to know the limitations of you knowledge. A lot of sceptics have read the scaremongering in the media and will present it as facts a discussion. If you're in such a discussion and lack the knowledge to prove them wrong, don't go there, cause it will look to bystanders that the sceptic is right. I find that in such cases it is better to tell the sceptic that he is entitled to his opinions, but I know what I a have experienced and that makes me 100% sure that vaping is a better alternative for me than smoking. If you show respect for their opinions, chances are they will show respect for yours and bystanders will most certainly do.
Responsible vapers will affect the reputation of vaping while failure to vape responsibly will damage it. It is all about showing respect for other people, handling equipment and e-liquid in a way that doesn't hurt anyone and acting like responsible adults. If vapers do this (and in most cases I think they do), the general attitude towards vaping will be positive, and the chances of winning the fights to come will increase drastically. In the end responsible vapers can affect the general attitude towards vaping and give us the reasonable regulations we want.
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  1. What a well thought out and well written article (cue applause here!). If we vapers conduct ourselves and our vaping in a mature, responsible and courteous manner we will go a long way towards winning the fight for our right to vape. On the other hand, if we conduct ourselves like a three year old having a temper tantrum over being denied dessert before we've had dinner, well........ I'm very much afraid that we will lose the battle through our own righteous arrogance. I find that if I explain to people in a calm and pleasant manner what I'm doing, what it does, what is in it (some of the same stuff that is in nebulizers and rescue inhalers) and WHY I am using it (so I don't smoke cancer causing cigarettes) a surprising number of people prove to be more interested than antagonistic. My grandmother always advised me that you could catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I've almost always found that to be pretty sound advice. Thanks for providing us with such thoughtful article.

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