Vaping has hit the mainstream. Once a hobby with a small, cult-like following, the demographics have certainly changed over the past few years. These days vapers come from all different walks of life, whether it’s the blue-collar construction worker or the Wall Street executive. The allure is simple: it’s the only way for many people to keep from smoking cigarettes. It should not be surprising then that we’re seeing vaping in everything from TV shows and movies, to music videos and magazines.
But with this exposure comes another issue: how are we being portrayed and are we giving our detractors ammunition to use against us? As in any nascent movement, messaging and tone is the key.
Throughout history, movements of all types have learned this fact, because it can lead to either broad success — or failure. Look at the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the Tea Party, or Black Lives Matter. Each at some point struggled with ensuring that the true meaning of their movement wasn’t drowned out by the not-so-well-thought out actions of a select few.
Vaping is not much different. Indeed, these days we’re fighting our own battles. The FDA is about to drop potentially crippling new rules governing the sale of vaping devices and e-juice. Bans are popping up everywhere, from local bars and restaurants, to US National Parks and other public places. It all comes down to incorrect assumptions, and sometimes we’re to blame for it.
Sending the Wrong Message?
About a month ago a perfect example of what I’m talking made its way into popular culture, and that’s thanks to New Jersey-born rapper Fetty Wap. In his latest music video titled “My Way,” personal vaporizers and “vape pens”s make their appearance several times.
But these are not the vape pens and personal vaporizers that you and I used to quit, and avoid smoking. They’re supplied by Kandypens, a California-based company that specializes in vaporizers for marijuana, not tobacco. Unfortunately, the average person is unlikely to know the difference, and messages like these are sure to contribute to the negative views about vaping.
Fetty Wap’s ode to vaping might actually do more harm than good, and there is data to support this. Yale University released details of a study last month which claims that out of nearly 3,900 Connecticut high school students surveyed, one in five vapers had also used their devices to vaporize cannabis or hash oil. While it’s not a huge number, it still gives the opposition something to gripe about.
I’ve had to explain the difference multiple times, so the misconception is certainly out there. “No, it’s not marijuana,” followed by a fact-based breakdown of vaping vs. smoking.
Speaking With A Unified Voice
I’m not sure there’s much we can do about famous rappers, or even high school and college students for that matter, who use personal vaporizers with cannabis; but in order for us to continue to enjoy the pastime we love and help people quit smoking cigarettes, we have an obligation to send the right message. People need to know that vaping is BENEFICIAL, and it can save lives!
So how do we accomplish this? One argument that I’ve heard — especially among shop owners and industry professionals — is that the industry as a whole should be speaking with one voice when it comes to regulations, especially those coming from the FDA. There are several advocacy groups working to this end, including the American Vaping Association and CASAA. I encourage every vaper to get involved with these groups, but unfortunately, in a burgeoning new industry with so many different parties involved, it’s extremely difficult to get everyone on the same page.
What You Can Do Personally
Managing our message is the responsibility of everyone that vapes. When you are out and about, use commonsense and practice some simple rules of vaping etiquette. Be prepared to combat myths and misconceptions about vaping, something that E-Cigarette Reviewed did well here.
If you choose to vape cannabis or hash oils, be respectful of the law. Remember, non-vapers can’t tell the difference — and you may be making it harder for somebody who is vaping nicotine to stay away cigarettes. And don’t be a douche, if an establishment doesn’t allow vaping, don’t do it!
These next few months and years are very important to the future of vaping. Let’s not make this harder for ourselves than it already is… be a positive representative!