I was asked to talk about vaping etiquette on BBC Radio Guernsey this morning.
Inevitably, no sooner had I tweeted this exciting news than one or two vapers asked why the director of Forest, rather than a vaping advocate, should have been given this onerous responsibility.
Well, I don't think you have to be a vaper to have an opinion about vaping etiquette.
Likewise you can have a view on smoking etiquette without being a smoker.
Even though I don't do it myself I also have strong views on the etiquette of playing loud music in an apartment block.
Or shouting abuse at football matches. (For the record, it's OK to hurl abuse at the referee and opposing players, but not your own team.)
The list of things we don't do is endless but it shouldn't stop us having an opinion.
Some vapers however want to 'own' the subject of vaping to such an extent that no-one else is entitled to have a view.
Bollocks to that.
That aside, Forest has plenty of supporters who smoke and vape (half of all vapers in the UK are dual users, apparently) so it's not unreasonable for us to be asked to comment on vaping-related issues.
Anyway, the reason the subject came up is because, in association with Vype (a brand of e-cigarette manufactured by British American Tobacco) Debrett's has just published a Guide to Vaping Etiquette.
Hats off to BAT, or their PR company. It was a clever PR stunt that got lots of column inches, much to the annoyance of ASH.
Most of it is common sense but 'good' manners are subjective so there's plenty of scope for disagreement.
For example, Debrett's Guide to Vaping Etiquette says stealth vaping is a major faux pas.
Nonsense. The whole point of stealth vaping is that no-one is aware you're doing it. Or, if they are, the inconvenience to them is so small it's insignificant. So what's the problem?
There's also an unnecessary fixation with the smell of vaping. Lots of things smell, including perfume. Does that mean no-one should ever wear perfume, or a strong aftershave, in a confined public space?
The most extraordinary thing in the Guide however concerns the etiquette of vaping at a dinner party. According to Debrett's:
Even if your host or guests are happy for you to vape, it’s polite to offer to take it outside.
Let me get this right. You're invited to a dinner party. You ask your host and fellow guests if they mind you vaping in the house. They all say, "No problem, go ahead", at which point you excuse yourself and go outside!!!!!!!
The underlying problem is that social interaction is being replaced by a raft of rules and regulations designed to determine our behaviour to the nth degree.
Worse, people are being made to feel guilty when they have absolutely no reason to. I call it the politics of shame.
Invariably there will be a handful of people who flout what society thinks is acceptable behaviour. But so what? If no-one gets hurt, and the moment is relatively fleeting, what's the problem?
Meanwhile, what starts off as a well-intentioned guide to etiquette (ie common sense) is eventually enforced by law – at which point politicians, egged on by campaigners, introduce a whole new set of regulations.
Anyway, if you want to hear my "controversial" thoughts on the etiquette of vaping (among other things), click here.