Earlier this week, Chicago joined New York City in banning the use of electronic cigarettes in restaurants and bars, condemning vapers in those cities to the cold streets along with the smokers. While I no longer live in New York City (and have only twice visited Chicago), I can fully sympathize with the ostracized vapers who must now wallow in the frigid hell outdoors: Vaping is banned in my house.
Do you see me lighting anything on fire when I vape? Do you smell smoke? No, you don’t.
Ask most vapers (and even some plain ol’ air breathers), and they’ll tell you any moratorium on e-cigarettes is nothing short of lunacy – Gestapo-level injustice imposed by evil halfwits who appear bent on coercing nicotine fiends to stick with cancer-causing tobacco by removing their ability to vape wherever they please. Vaping is not smoking. That’s just science. Do you see me lighting anything on fire when I vape? Do you smell smoke? No, you don’t. I can’t help it if the white vapor I’m blowing into the air is confusing you, you freakin’ imbecile.
Oh, um, sorry. I got carried away there. You’re not an imbecile, promise. It’s just that I’m a little irritable. See, this question of whether or not vaping should be allowed indoors has become a major point of contention between my lovely fiancée, Jennifer, and me. And so far, she’s coming out of this one on top.
She’s what I like to call a “better safe than sorry” type. While we don’t have any children, Jennifer insists, for example, that our dog wear a bright orange hunter’s vest every time he goes on a hike (even at public parks), we unplug every lamp in the house each time we leave for more than an afternoon to ensure that our genius cats don’t electrocute themselves by chewing on the cords, and I’ve taken to snapping photos of the stove whenever I head out, as evidence that I managed to turn off all the burners.
Which brings me to the matter of vaping. A perfect evening for me consists of sitting on my couch with a reasonable glass of Scotch in one hand and my e-cigarette in another, watching “Game of Thrones” with Jennifer and the rest of our little Critter Jug Band. That’s what I would like to do. That’s how I prefer to relax. Unfortunately, Jennifer has shamed me into agreeing that the e-cigarette will not be part of that quaint domestic scene. Why? Because e-cigarette vapor might not be safe, Jennifer says. Do I want to expose her and the critters to potentially dangerous vapor? Don’t I love my family?
Dammit, yes, I love my family. Which is why I begrudgingly admit that Jennifer just might be right. Forget the fact that not a single study on e-cigarettes has thus far shown that e-cigarettes pose a health risk to direct users or second-hand bystanders. Forget that I no longer smoke tobacco cigarettes thanks to e-cigs. Forget that e-cig vapor does not smell (much, anyway). And forget that I really freakin’ like doing it, so why can you just let me be happy?! No, instead, I’m just “inhaling random chemicals from China,” which may or may not cause some hideous disease.
Until science confirms what vapers believe, the right thing to do is to abstain around others.
Trouble is, that’s true. I know that I feel a bazillion times better using e-cigarettes than I did when I smoked. I know that my doctor smiled approvingly when I told her I vape. I know that I can run up a hill faster than Jennifer – and she does freakin’ yoga. What nobody knows, however, is what the long-term effects of vaping will be. The number of studies is too few, and the technology has existed for too short a time for the medical and scientific communities to say definitely, “Andrew Couts, you are right about the safety of e-cigarettes, and Jennifer is totally wrong. She should be embarrassed for making a big deal about this.” Or, you know, the other way around.
The fact is, I do love my family, and I don’t want to do anything that will hurt them, ever, even if I’m willing to take that risk with myself. In other words, until science confirms what vapers believe, the right thing to do is to abstain around those who don’t share the habit.
So, for now, I am exiled to my attic office anytime I want to vape (i.e. always) – which might seem like a perfectly fine compromise. But that’s before you consider that it is the one room of our house without heat, and the steps are so steep that our dog dare not ascend them for fear of never being able to make it back down alive. So, it’s just me and the cats, freezing our furry asses off, alone, without a proper couch or television. But hey, at least it’s better than a bar bouncer telling me to take it outside like the smoker that I am not.