With e-cigarettes growing in popularity, are smokeless cigarettes redefining social smoking?
Lighting up a cigarette has long been a communal activity, but now smokeless cigarettes are seemingly creating their own culture of “vaping” that is taking hold.
Vapor shops are popping up everywhere and, partly because smokeless cigarettes can be used indoors, we are even starting to see so-called vapor lounges opening up to accommodate a different kind of social smoking that is both communal and economical.
Even though times have changed and the public perception of cigarette smoking has also changed dramatically, most of us still remember a time when smoking was the “cool” thing to do. Heck, that is still the case in a lot of circles, even though social smoking has diminished in appeal due to the various anti-smoking campaigns funded by the government as well as private organizations.
As smokeless cigarettes became more well known, it has been interesting to see how a product that is similar, but differs greatly from traditional cigarettes, would fit into that culture. The smoke and smell isn’t there, but the flavors, physical action of smoking, and a smoke-like vapor is.
The first time I started using e-cigarettes, I received the most curious looks from people. I was an alien to smokers now and they didn’t even understand what I was doing, much less accept me. Boy, have things changed since then! E-cigs moved quickly from the realm of the strange and unusual, to recognizable and a movement of its own.
Social smoking had to make room for us “vapers” using smokeless cigarettes to get what we want and need. As tends to happen when people feel passionate about something, electronic cigarette users banded together around their newfound love of vaping. Now they just needed places to congregate around others of their own kind. Thankfully the one thing you can count on in America is that someone will come along to fill those voids, especially when there is profit potential.
Even though it was inevitable given the skyrocketing interest in e-cigarettes, it is still incredible to see the massive growth of vapor shops around the country. At first tobacco shop owners had to take note of smokeless cigarettes and make room for them on their shelves, but soon enough we had shops and lounges specifically for e-cig users.
The difference is that e-cig enthusiasts, not just businessmen trying to make a profit, generally own these vapor shops. They have bought in to the electronic cigarette concept and are passionate about sharing it with other current and former smokers.
Unlike cigarettes, where smokers usually stick with one brand, vaping with smokeless cigarettes allows users to try different flavors and brands. It has become fun and communal, creating its own sort of social smoking – or social vaping.
As Melonie Flomer explained in her recent article, “The vapor lounges are becoming popular spots for e-cig enthusiasts who want to taste different flavors before buying. Customers can choose from a variety of e-liquids and relax in a cushy leather chair or on the couch making giant clouds of scented water vapor.” This type of environment really encourages the community aspect of e-cigarettes, but some have already taken their love of e-cigs to another level.
Robert Matarazzo, for instance, is a former two-pack-a-day smoker that helps organize the Vape It! Festival and was recently quoted in this NJ.com article. While describing the people that attend, Robert said, “I would say this subculture is a group of health-minded people who want to get away from tobacco.”
And then you have guys like Greg Korol, who is the founder of the Garden State Vaper Knuckleheads, a group that gets together once a month to talk vapor and try out products. “We’re people who are trying to stay away from cigarettes. Vaping has saved our lives” Greg was quoted saying in that same article.
Notice a pattern? People are finding a real community to rely on and have fun with. They’re creating a “vaper” culture right before our eyes and it is something that goes way beyond social smoking with traditional cigarettes.
The fact is that smoking has become less accepted and even stigmatized at this point. With the advent of smokeless cigarettes, we are seeing a different type of culture emerge and it is only gaining steam. As part of the vaping community, it’s great to see people so enthusiastic about their e-cigarettes!
Whether you want to join a group, go to a festival, or just vape on your own, there is a place for you in the community. 🙂