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Vaping etiquette? I'm your man

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.

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Reader Comments (6)

Simon is correct in pointing out that the question that always gets discussed, e.g. "How should public vaping be regulated?" is based on the premise that it should be regulated at all. It is simply assumed to be a fact about the world that vaping bans advance a legitimate state public health interest.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 14:57 | Unregistered CommenterNate

No doubt if vaping advocates spoke on this they would ensure the smoker or smoking is shoved under the bus to promote how wonderful vaping is and how much they are not like smokers.

I am pleased you speak on vaping. You are one of the very few who promotes vaping on the merits of vaping and not on the negative side of smoking or by promoting smokerphobia or smokerphobic fears on shs.

Incidentally, i have a burner that looks like a vape box so if i am anywhere inside and see vapers vaping, i will use this thing and put any smell of tobacco down to the smell of an eliquid. As a smoker, i refuse to be shoved into 3rd class citizenship. I have said before that where vapers are allowed to vape, i will smoke.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 15:29 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat, you admit you smoke where smoking is illegal? Or are you saying you vape where vaping is allowed? Because I suspect that "burner" is actually a dry herb vaporizer, same as heat not burn cigs which should not be included in bans either. But that's another argument for the we know best brigade to offer their advice on.
As to shoving smokers under the bus, the bus went by years ago and it wasn't vapers who shoved smokers under its wheels.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 18:29 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Gleeson

Since vaping is a new habit its etiquette is still changing and evolving. I was recently in Canada for a one week work visit. After asking around my host was able to get me a room in a hotel that "tolerated" vaping "as long as the guest only did it in his/her room". This "etiquette" is very similar to that applied by a paternal authority (parents, teachers, priests) to minors on something that is harmless but "may offend decent people", and thus must only be allowed in strict privacy (like masturbation). This speaks volumes on how public health bureaucracies have transformed health concerns into a religion, specially in English speaking countries.

Vaping etiquette (and I must add: smoking etiquette too) should aim at promoting fair agreements in the interactions between adults. An agreed etiquette must not aim to please the desire of prohibitionists and busybodies. The tragedy of present day public health is that these individual interactions among free adults are being replaced by coercive state regulations. We must resist this at all costs.

Also, it is shameful and utterly unacceptable to propose an etiquette that requires me to ask to be directed outside to vape, even when my hosts have given me permission to do it indoors. This applies to smoking. Rejecting this has nothing to do with how safe is vaping in comparison to smoking. It is simply upholding the minimal dignity to avoid bowing to prejudice, to avoid bending backwards in order to please prohibitionists and busybodies. No, this is not etiquette, this is self flagellation. Thanks, but NO THANKS.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 20:24 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

I am saying that where vapers are allowed inside so smokers should be too. I will not be pushed into 3rd class citizenship. There is stealth vaping and stealth smoking too.

One thing i always used to regret was that smoking etiquette was never promoted only bans, more bans, and finally stigmatisation.

If vapers are smokers friends, then show it and stand out with us until we all have the choice to smoke inside. or don't get mardy because a smoker hides behind your right to vape inside.

I would rather vape tobacco illegally inside than damage my health by vaping eliquid, which makes me ill, or catch my death of cold outside.

I hope i have made my position clear.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 11:15 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Good interview Simon .

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 19:14 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Spalding

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