Users of electronic cigarettes should follow the same courtesies that traditional cigarette smokers are accustomed to — such as not puffing in indoor public places. (Photo courtesy of Vaping360 / Flickr)
Users of electronic cigarettes should follow the same courtesies that traditional cigarette smokers are accustomed to — such as not puffing in indoor public places. (Photo courtesy of Vaping360 / Flickr)

OPINION: Leave your vaping outdoors

Most laws and restrictions that prohibit traditional cigarette smoking also ban vaping, but that doesn’t stop some from thinking that they can and should be able to blow their blueberry scented water vapor in my face as I try to enjoy veal parmesan.

Cigarette smoking in most California restaurants and bars has been illegal for my entire life. Only one time have I ever seen any smoker of traditional tobacco cigarettes break that law, and the perpetrator happened to be a bartender during last call in an establishment that had about six people inside at the time.

On the other hand, I’ve lost track of how many vaping aficionados I’ve felt obliged to give a dirty look.

Laws prohibiting smoking in public enclosed spaces such as restaurants, bars, airplanes and workplaces make sense on two fronts. The first, of course, is concern over the health of nonsmokers.

Effects from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke have killed 2.5 million nonsmoking Americans since 1965, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For most of those years, it was perfectly legal and accepted — sometimes even encouraged — to smoke in places where it would be unthinkable today.

But when it comes to applying those laws to electronic cigarettes, the vaping enthusiasts and their defenders doth protest. Electronic cigarettes do include between nine and 450 times less toxins than traditional cigarettes, according to an American-European joint study.

Nonetheless, a 2013 German study did find that vaping in an enclosed space increases the amount of nicotine, as well as chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, in the air. Call me radical, but I’m a firm believer that people who don’t want to breathe in aluminum shouldn’t have to.

Which brings me to the second concern. Though not nearly as important as health issues, one of the problems with the indoor smoking culture that all but disappeared with traditional tobacco cigarettes in the past few decades was that it was just plainly rude to those people who did not smoke.

My grandmother had the misfortune of being sensitive to smoke while living in the “Mad Men” era. People would light up cigarettes left and right and she just had to deal with it.

Very few people — even smokers — enjoy having a plume of smoke waft over their dinner plate.

So even though your 21st century nicotine juice vapor may be more high-tech and less harmful than secondhand tobacco smoke, it is still just as rude.

And if traditional cigarette smokers have gotten the message and by-and-large try to be considerate to those around them, you should too.

As for the “vaping helps smokers quit” excuse, fine. If you want to vape instead of smoke, knock yourself out, but follow the same courtesies that you would have extended when you smoked.

It’s hard out there for a smoker in 2017 California. If my experiences with inconsiderate people in and around Sacramento are any indication, it should be a little harder for vapers, too.

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  • CarlApr 30, 2017 at 2:06 am

    Thank you. You speak for many who recognize that both smoking and vaping are substance abuse, because lungs are for breathing clean air, only clean air and nothing but clean air.

  • Andrew ThompsonApr 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    If your worried about the level of substances in exhaled vapor I’m surprised you’re ever in a restaurant or any other public place in a modern city, rather than huddled under a blanket in your log cabin in the mountains. The levels (& carcinogenic potential) of the fumes from internal combustion engines in cities is much, much (much) greater than anything you might experience from the vapor of others.

    As it stands, any business owner is free to ban vape within their premises, and you as a consumer, are free to spend your money where you see fit.

    Stop being a snowflake & recognise that I put up with your Parmesan scented breath & the fact you swam in your cologne, without protest. It’s called ‘living in a society’.

    • CathyBMay 2, 2017 at 1:44 am

      So being affected by vape odour and indeed second hand smoke is being a snowflake? Come back when you have had multiple blood clots in both lungs and are left with permanent bronchitis! Then we will see who is the snowflake!