I was reading through some Facebook groups the other day and came across a post that bothered me. (The names I’m using are fictional but the story is real). John (a fellow Vaper) was shopping for gifts at a mall and was confronted by a lady (Jane) who came up to him and said, “you can’t smoke in the mall”. John said that he calmly told her that it is an e-cig and that it was ok for him to use ( they sell them at that mall ) and just continued walking. Jane in turn yelled in the direction of a security guard “guard this guy is smoking in the mall”. John had to spend 20 minutes sitting in the security office explaining it to the security guard before the mall manager finally came and told him he was free to go and keep vaping.
My sympathies could be with both of these people.
Let’s take a look at Jane’s actions first:
Maybe she is just a nosy, busy body, tattletale, butting in where she doesn’t belong…maybe she is like a lot of us and can’t stand the smell of smoke and doesn’t want to be exposed to it…or perhaps she has a loved one who had a horrible death due to smoking. Whatever the reason one thing is certain, she had no clue about what an electronic cigarette was. Apparently the security guard didn’t either. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the vast majority of people are like Jane … they don’t know about vaping or what it is really about…Anti-smoking.
He has taken the time and effort to improve his life and those around him with vapor instead of smoke. He is harming no one. He is walking through a mall, minding his own business, when a distraught person confronts him because she assumes he is smoking. I think that it is likely that John could have defused this situation by spending a little more time educating Jane rather than simply walking away.
Here is what bothers me about this story. First of all Jane should have gone to the security guard instead of confronting the so-called “smoker”. Second, management of this mall is incompetent and caused this problem by not educating their security guards about electronic cigarettes. Had they done that the guard would never have had to bother John and in turn been able to educate the lady who was complaining. Third, we as vapers should expect questions if we are going to vape in public. It does look like we are smoking. Our community doesn’t have hundreds of billions of dollars and a fawning press to get our message out. Like it or not until vaping becomes main-stream it is going to be up to us to help educate everyone else. Stating your rights and simply walking away is not the answer. Jane saw what appeared to be smoke and the explanation she got was that it was an “eCig” and it was OK to use in the mall. Jane leaves this encounter with no real information with the idea that this device is just another “CIGARETTE” and one more thing to add to her hate list. And she will spread the word among people she knows.
I am a huge advocate of vaping and there are very few places I go without my PV. I want it to be seen everywhere by as many people as possible. I want people to ask me questions and I consider it a privilege to help someone if it will help them to quit smoking. The example in this blog illustrates a golden opportunity to enlighten the general public. The only cost is a little bit of time. The rewards are enormous.