Welcome to the second edition of the Standing Together blog series. Last week we talked about standing together as a supportive and encouraging community. As I said last week, I realize I may end up stepping on a few toes. I will be as tactful as possible, and I genuinely do not mean to offend. That being said; there are things I believe need to be said and discussed as a community. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what vaping courtesy really is, and the mindset behind the choices we make.
In a previous blog we discussed vaping courtesy, with a focus on vaping inside establishments and being sure to ask before your vape. It’s a simple enough thing; when you walk into a bar, restaurant, bowling alley, or anywhere else, simply ask the manager if they mind if you vape. With the current wave of banning vaping, this is more important than ever. By asking, you are letting the establishment know that you respect their space, and it’s a great conversation starter. Plus, if other patrons express concern, you have stopped the problem before it can start. However, vaping courtesy within the community shouldn’t stop there.
One thing that big tobacco likes to put in their e-cig advertisements is the ability to vape anywhere. While that sounds like a wonderful thing, think about where it’s coming from and the public perception it affects. In case you haven’t seen the news, vaping is being banned left and right from public places. These bans aren’t happening because there is scientific evidence that it’s dangerous; it’s based on the fear of history repeating itself. Those who don’t know the reality about vaping and it’s health effects, tend to fear it because it resembles smoking. The hardware might not, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, you have something that looks like smoke coming out of your mouth.
Last week I asked you to remember what it was like for you when you were smoking. I’m going to ask you now to imagine that you never took up smoking to begin with. You’re walking down the street, and a huge cloud of you don’t know what goes right in your face from the person in front of you. It may not smell unpleasant, but you have no idea what you just walked into or if it will have any negative impacts on your health. I would be uncomfortable and annoyed personally. Wouldn’t you be thinking something like “Why can’t I even walk down the street without smoke being blown in my face?”
The current rash of government bans on vaping proves that the public perception creates reality. No one likes it, but that’s the way it is. Our community is under the microscope, and courtesy is a big factor that is affecting public perception. The news articles about schools being closed and flights making emergency landings because vape clouds are setting off smoke alarms, is making a stronger statement to the public than the scientific studies showing how relatively safe second hand vapor actually is. We’re being portrayed as rebellious and irresponsible, which is paving the way for those who say we don’t care about public health. They see smokers with a new toy fighting against those who are simply trying to keep their children safe. Within the community, we know that that is the farthest thing from who we really are, but we need to work together on the way we act to fight that image. So, how do we do that?
When you look at the news, it seems as though we are under attack as a community. The natural response to being attacked is to strike back harder. That’s human nature and completely understandable; however it is also counterproductive. Getting angry, vaping wherever we want without a care, blowing off the preferences of those around us, and lashing out in social media is ultimately giving the anti-vaping movement all the ammo they need. Every courtroom TV show has a moment where the lawyer pushes the person on the stand to lose their temper, resulting in that person throwing themselves under the bus. A silly analogy, but that’s exactly what’s being done now. Many of us are being pushed to the point of allowing our passionate natures to control our choices, which results in negative overall results for everyone. We need to take a breath, and just like our moms always told us, be the bigger person. Remember that one kid in class that was just a jerk to everyone? Did anyone actually listen to why they were that way, or if they had valid points about why what he was doing really wasn’t a problem? I didn’t. They were a jerk; I didn’t care what they said, they were in the wrong. We don’t have to like the rules, but we do have to follow them. By respecting the regulations and being courteous even when there aren’t strict rules in place, we actually gain the power to stand against them.
In summary, we need to think before we act and not allow our emotions to rule our choices. We may not agree with the regulations or public perceptions, but if we continue to fuel their perception we will never be able to change it. Ask before you vape, think before you blow a cloud, and don’t be a jerk. Justified or not, responding with negative passion is the fastest way to get people to stop listening. As a community, by being courteous when we vape, we can create a more open response to what we have to say. We can make a difference, but only if we all stand together as a community and influence public perception in a positive way.
Come back next week when we take a look at how we interact with and respond to vape shops. Until then, let us know your thoughts. Stand together vapers and vape on!
Written by: Michelle Harnden