I remember being a cigarette smoker, and how cognizant I was of the direction of my cigarette smoke when in company with non-smokers, or even smokers alike. I often tried to lean my head away, blow out the opposite side of my mouth or upwards – wherever I could alleviate my lungs without causing too much of a fuss, I looked to satisfy that level of comfort and respect to those around me. I was the kind of smoker who even asked if it were okay that I smoke around my non-smoking friends when we were outdoors in the open air, and I could easily walk away. Even around other smokers, as a smoker myself, I always believed in an etiquette and level of consideration regarding my invasion of their olfaction.
A lot of that feeling, I think, came from the most obvious and obtrusive aspect of cigarette smoke – the smell. Smell is the right word – it’s not a scent. Smell is what something does when it’s undesirable, uninvited, and invasive. Cigarettes don’t emit an aura of pleasantry or delight – even among some cigarette smokers. No one likes having smoke blown in their face – it smells.
My vessel for nicotine intake has certainly changed in the last year, but my attitude has not. Vaping, in a lot of ways, is a far cry from cigarette smoking. For one, I know that my nicotine intake is controlled and clarified – without the added carcinogens and synthetics found in paper cigarettes. For another, when I vape, I have the pleasure of tasting watermelon, or bubblegum, or coffee, or sour apple. And then I blow vapor – water’s gaseous form – with all it’s charming and innocent scent.
But people still don’t want “smoke” blown in their faces.
I’m not saying I tested this experience by walking around vaping and specifically exhaling my pursed lips into the eyes and noses of my friends and family. It’s a natural response – regardless of the scent – to back away, or otherwise move from the sight of smoke (yes, even when it’s not smoke) – and people are totally within their right to feel that way about it. For all its potential benefits and unstudied effects, vaping is still inextricably bound in most folks’ minds to the act of smoking a combustible cigarette, including the desire not to have clouds of smells or scents they never asked for looming around them.
I vape most of the day, every day, and I don’t want you to blow your cloud in my face and ask me if I like that “flavor.” Even if it is a typically pleasant scent to my olfactory senses, now I’m just annoyed at your inconsideration and intrusion on those senses. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe this is why I prefer to stay home instead of frequenting vape bars or engaging in long taste-tests with the salesfolk at any of my area shops. I might be the exception to the rule here.
But, that exception comes from a long time watching the faces of others scrunched up at the sight and smell of cigarette smoke, and their still initially-scrunched faces when I vape around them – even if they do ease up a little bit when they realize it’s mango-strawberry instead of tobacco and arsenic. For me, my cloud is a part of the ritual, and a component of my controlled cessation practice. It’s not a shared experience. The flavors and scents of my vape juice are a nice byproduct of the technology and its expected use.
I don’t push my habit on others, no matter how it smells.
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