Biting the bullet
It is possible that we will avoid Ecigs being regulated within the EU Tobacco Directive, the reported opinion from the EU council that advises on legal affairs (JURI) that the inclusion of Ecigs would not withstand legal challenge can at least offer us some hope. However even if we do win this particular EU battle, the war to keep our freedom to vape is far from over, we need to have public opinion on our side to avoid the possibility of our national or regional governments introducing legislation to unduly restrict us. We might like to imagine that we live in a truly free market society however the truth is that our society is highly regulated, this is especially so with respect to health and safety. Politicians like to make laws, it makes them feel useful.
Love me, I'm a vaper
Currently Vapers are not universally loved, in fact we have very few natural allies. Smokers despise us because they feel that we have deserted their camp and non-smokers think we are just as bad as the tobacco burners are. Any new group of people who are doing something that is not understood are treated with suspicion at the very least. It is our responsibility as Vapers to convince the public as a whole that we are normal, rational and friendly individuals who choose to vape in preference to smoking tobacco and to present the reasons why we vape. If we can get public opinion supporting our effort not to smoke tobacco then we are far less likely to face restrictions from government.
Where I Vape
Having a surreptitious vape may be appealing, it may even be reminiscent for some of us of our younger days having a sneaky drag in the school loos but this type of behaviour does not represent Vapers well to the public. You may recall the debacle arising from someone allegedly attempting to secretly vape on a coach on the M6 toll near Birmingham in July 2012, The Guardian headline at the time read 'M6 toll coach terror scare caused by vapour from electronic cigarette', this was the first time that many members of the public had seen a report concerning ecigs in the mass media and it certainly was not a good start.
Vaping is not illegal in enclosed public areas but we should be careful not to confuse legality with permission, personally I do not presume that vaping is allowed anywhere other than in my our own property or in open outdoor space. Permission to vape in or on anyone else's property is within their gift to grant or refuse, I always comply with their wishes, if I am refused authorisation to vape after seeking the property owners permission I take it as a good opportunity to educate them about vaping but I always try to do so in a friendly and non-confrontational manner.
When I was much younger I remember feeling quite aggrieved that cinemas had started to insist that those who wished to smoke sat together on one side of the cinema, in hindsight this was the start of the long slide to the complete banning of indoor public smoking but at the time the move was derided by smokers who initially flouted the new rule and continued to smoke wherever they wished within the cinema. The smokers had ignored the public opinion shift against them and quickened the demise of their freedom to smoke in public by antagonising non-smokers. As Vapers we are currently in the same position as smokers were at that time, if we behave in anyway that makes non-Vapers unhappy we leave ourselves vulnerable to draconian legislation.
My brother is still a dedicated smoker, he refuses to use any transport that requires him not to smoke for two hours or more, he therefor doesn't get to go on any holidays to distant climes. I'm really not sure if he expects that his self imposed boycott will result in a change of airline policy or not but I think that it is obvious that his action will have no effect on anyone other than himself.
Like my brother, I don't enjoy being nicotine deprived for long periods either but that is not going to dictate my travel choices. I know that some Vapers are tempted to have a stealth vape on-route however I always take the less risky path and just slap on a nicotine patch for the duration of the journey. Once, after an eight hour flight, I landed in Amsterdam to transfer to my next flight to the U.K. I was stuck indoors on the secure side of the airport but the airport authorities had thoughtfully provided a smoking room and as a responsible vaper I went and joined the smokers where no one could be upset by my vaping... O'h gosh, I wish that I had not done so, despite powerful extractors the smoking room was an absolute fog, I didn't need to vape as just breathing in gave me a nicotine rush. I left Amsterdam wishing that I had just kept my patch on and stayed away from the smokers, I was feeling quite ill.
If in the long term we Vapers can persuade the public that we present no threat and pose no danger to them then we do have a chance of a future in which we can vape freely when and where we choose however if we push our habit too forcefully where it is unwelcome we risk a public backlash and the permanent loss of our current freedoms.
I know that this article won't represent the universal view of all Vapers, I therefore invite you to express your opinion, either in agreement or opposition - please comment in the box below.