There are a lot of “self loathing” smokers out there, people genuinely ashamed that they are chained to tobacco. When I was a smoker, I was the complete opposite of that. I loved being a smoker, celebrated it even. Walking around the Las Vegas strip, sitting at the blackjack table with a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in the other felt classy or sophisticated to me. I just assumed that I would smoke for the rest of my life and that it would eventually kill me. You can judge me, but hear me out.
Electronic cigarettes and “vaping” have changed my life. I started shooting YouTube videos and blogging within a few days of getting my first “ecig”. People needed to know about this miracle device. They needed to know that a staunch tobacco lover had just effortlessly gone three full days without a cigarette. I had to tell people, as many as I could. I wanted to get as much information out there as possible.
Back in 2009, the “vape community” was small: we had small batteries,under-performing atomizers and oddly flavored “juice” from China. But we made it work. We were all really excited, and it felt like something we were all going through together – discovering new batteries and devices, discussing juices, welcoming new people into the fold. There was (and still is) an overwhelming sense of camaraderie.
That same sense of camaraderie is what I believe keep us strong in the face of relentless attacks from the mainstream media, as well as government bodies like the FDA and World Health Organization. Watching un-informed politicians and lawmakers attempting to ban and heavily regulate electronic cigarettes just breaks my heart. Why do they so badly want to take this wonderful thing, that has helped thousands upon thousands of people stop using tobacco, away from us? Why is it in their best interests to make using an electronic cigarette as difficult as possible?
We have recently seen all sorts of arguments from the anti-vaping-crowd, ranging from a need to protect the children to the incredibly outdated and inaccurate anti-freeze argument – based on a small-scope study the FDA did in 2010. Currently, the big trend in the crusade against vaping is arguing that e-cigarette use will somehow get non-smokers addicted to nicotine, and that they will then move from vaping to tobacco cigarettes. Politicians and the public simply can’t believe that vaping isn’t the next scourge of society.
If I could stress one thing to anyone, it would be the incredibly important point that e-cigarette use is not about being 100% safe and harmless; it is about harm reduction. It’s about being safer than the alternative. It’s actually comparable to clicking on a seat belt when you get in the car. For former smokers, it’s about feeling better about yourself, not smelling like an ashtray, and being excited about not using tobacco.
The current situation in New York City is the perfect example of un-informed politicians making knee-jerk reactions based on bad science and the testimonies by Big Pharma funded lobbyists and anti-smoking/anti-vaping activists fed lines from PR firms.
This community is one of the most vocal I have been a part of. We are passionate about harm reduction; we have seen how well e-cigs work. I have personally spoken with 30, 40, 50-year smokers that have finally been able to stop using tobacco thanks to vaping.
I believe that vaping can and will change the world for smokers; it’s a revolution in tobacco harm reduction. More than any other product currently available, I believe that vaping has the ability to really help these people. Non-smokers may never understand how truly difficult it is to stop using cigarettes. I think that if they did, then no one would stand between smokers and their ability to purchase and use electronic cigarettes.