I started smoking at my first job. I was a busboy and eager to meet everyone I worked with. Hanging out in the alleyway during breaks to share cigs and conversation with the bartenders and cooks seemed like the right thing to do. My use progressed from there. I spent a year at a community college after High School and before heading to University. You could usually find me between classes at the “smoking huts,” chatting, playing guitar, and mingling with the international students (a demographic that truly loved their cigarettes).
Eventually I began looking forward to the car ride home when I’d light up as soon as I sat in the driver’s seat, or before going to bed when I’d have a few more drags to end the day. While I originally began smoking for the social aspect, it was quickly becoming clear to me that this activity was becoming a habit that was working its way into my daily routine.
My smoking habit followed me to college, and I progressed to “rolling my own.” My town had a local smoke shop where you could buy loose tobacco, and I had a taste for the Amsterdam Shag, a strong blend that gave me the buzz I was looking for. The smoking “high” has always been a part of what I wanted from my cigarettes, and this tobacco (sans filter) was doing the trick. But it wouldn’t last.
After about a year of rolling I started to realize that the earlier pleasure I’d been getting from cigarettes was fading. I was at a University that had no smoking on campus, so there was no longer the community of people to hang out with and chat and almost none of my friends were interested in spending the money (or their health) on cigarettes. Smoking was relegated to times when I was bored, and it began to seem like more of a chore than a hobby.
There were other things that bothered me as well. I began to hate the stink a cig would leave on my hands for hours after smoking one, not to mention dry mouth and bad breath. I noticed adverse health effects as well. If I had even the slightest indication of a sore throat, smoking a cigarette would ensure that the illness progressed to a full on cold within a few days. The habit was becoming not worth the trouble.
So I stopped smoking as much. And it worked. I know that sounds too easy to some people, but I guess I’m just lucky. To be clear, I’ve had cigarettes since then. On nights out with friends, I’ll gladly enjoy one after having a few drinks. But it is by no means a habit anymore. I can’t stand the thought of the stench following me all day.
Fast forward to 2014: I’d known about vaping for a while, but considering how I had taken cigarettes out of my life it was something that I wasn’t interested in trying. I would take drags from friends’ mods every once in a while and was enticed by the customizable aspect of it, but from what I knew they were expensive and I had other things to buy. I thought my relationship with nicotine would be on a permanent back burner.
That all changed last November when I was looking for local jobs. I saw an ad for Mt. Baker Vapor and was intrigued. As an economics major, I recognized the explosive potential in the industry. As a political science minor, I thought the battle around regulation was fascinating. I applied, and soon enough I was working in the industry.
The ride has been crazy. We’re constantly growing and helping to pave the way for this new movement that is vaping. I’ve gone from not knowing what VG is to searching out videos in my free time about the best way to wrap coils and wick my Subtank Mini RTA. Every day I check /r/electronic_cigarette and I’ve signed up for email updates from CASAA that inform me on important developments regarding vaping legislation.
This industry has a long ways to go, but I’m extremely excited about the chance to be a part of it from the inside. If I had one thing to tell people in the community, it’s that they should embrace the chance to be part of such a new movement. Get active. Go to meetups, talk to your local representatives about why they should support vaping. The best way to fight negative perceptions is with your own, positive, stories. Together, we can change the way the world views vaping.
Something to think about:
In February, I attended the Washington State public legislative session for HB 1645 along with some other MBV employees. What have you done or could you do to play a more active role in advocacy?
Written by: Kenny Spotz