One of the things that I was used to as a smoker was always having to go outside. Although I can still remember when it was legal in this country to smoke inside pubs and clubs, it’s been almost 12 years since if you’ve wanted to spark up, it was out into the cold. I was probably a bit grumpy about it at the time, but I think this was a huge step forwards to making it both easier to quit smoking, and more pleasant for non-smokers. That act of “going outside for a cigarette” became so much the norm for smokers, it’s probably why when I did smoke, I actually started to feel uncomfortable doing it inside, even if I was allowed to (for example at home).
Since finding vaping, I’ve also been finding how nice it is to stay inside in the warm, to not have to pause what you’re doing and leave for 10 minutes every time that craving took hold. The thing is, the social etiquette on this is still a bit murky.
I know of only one pub near me that is fine with you vaping inside, though being a small pub, they will be quick to ask you to leave if you start fogging the place up! But it’s nice to be able to take a small little MTL tank down there with me, and sit in the warm. Hopefully the smokers having to get up and go outside will see this as another benefit to switching as well!
It would be nice if more bars, clubs, and other establishments were a little more friendly towards vaping, though I can understand the reluctance. But I think that acceptance is an important step to vaping becoming more normalised, and consequently pushing smoking even further away from norm. In most places, I will have to go outside to vape, and stand in the same area as the smokers. Now not only do I not particularly enjoy this (now that I can smell things again, I don’t like my clothes reeking of tobacco!), but it poses two distinct problems. Firstly, it may make it harder for people to give up smoking, if you’re having to go outside and stand with the smokers anyway, then that’s one less advantage you may have by switching to vaping. You are also far more likely to get well meaning friends offering you a cigarette rather than having to ‘just’ have a vape. Similarly if you run out of liquid, your batteries go flat, or any other similar hiccup occurs, it provides an easy opportunity to ask someone for a smoke. The second problem is the appearance of it, in the eyes of non-smokers (or vapers) there’s naturally going to be a conflation of the two acts. You both have to go stand outside to do it. You both produce clouds of smoke/vapour. Ergo they must be fairly interchangeable. This then feeds into the problem that Public Health England found, where a huge amount of people are still uniformed about vaping, and believe it is just as harmful as smoking. If the two actions are treated as one and the same, and they know that the reason smokers have to do it is because it’s harmful, then who can blame them?
I’m not sure how we go about doing this, whether we tackle it as smoking but in reverse? Start off by having designated vaping sections indoors? But if a few more places were explicit that they accepted vapers, if there was a little sign like the legally mandated “It is illegal to smoke in this building”, then maybe this would be a good first step?
Vaping in other people’s homes is another interesting one, there are no known harmful effects associated with second hand vaping, as there are with second hand smoking. Similarly, it’s not going to leave their home stinking. Having said that I would never dream of vaping in someone else’s place without checking in with them first. Especially with the misconceptions I spoke about earlier, it’s just common politeness to check in first.
What I’ve found though is that an amazing amount of people have been absolutely fine with me vaping in their home. It’s a really nice feeling when you say you’re just going to pop outside to vape for a moment, and they tell you “It’s fine, you can do that in here”. Seriously, I can’t overestimate how accepted this can make you feel, that vaping is not some dirty habit that you need to step outside for (like smoking), but something that you can do in comfort, and acceptance, with friends.
And this is the real crux of it, having your partner, friends, family, accept vaping as something that is so much less harmful than smoking. That by being open and accepting of it, they are helping to reinforce the benefits, and helping to make sure you don’t feel the urge to go back to cigarettes. Surely that is a win for everyone?
However. If we treat people who vape like smokers, if they have to stand in the cold, get up from the table, miss out on the conversation. Then we run the risk of them starting to see little difference between the two of them as well, especially those that are new and are just starting to give up the smokes.
For those that are interested here is an interesting list of 7 myths around vaping, this is based on Public Health England’s research.