I love coffee. This is well documented. Unfortunately for me, coffee is loving me less and less as the years go by. The caffeine gives me headaches and makes my heart race. The sugar makes my skin break out. The cream makes my nose run. I’ve ended up with a decaf, stevia sweetened, soy creamer thing that is only coffee-ish. Lately the caffeine even in the decaf is giving me problems. Soon I will be sitting there with my mug full of air, the mug itself the only thing left of my once beloved drug of choice.
There is a church near where I live—heck, my yurt in smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, there are at least twelve churches within a few miles of my property—that has a tall steeple with bells clearly visible inside and a song that goes off every quarter hour. But one day I was looking up when the bells went off…and the bells were not moving. Then I noticed the small speaker situated in the corner of the bell-tower. The bell songs were recordings! These were fake bells! The church people wanted the experience of a bell-tower, without the muss and inconvenience of actual bells…so they concocted a work around. People are so creative like that. It seemed so…gross somehow.
Because it’s fake, right? Who wants to hear fake bells? Who wants to have a “bell-like experience”? Isn’t this like vinyl siding made to look like wood? Isn’t this astro-turf we’re talking about? Isn’t this like my decaf, no-sugar, no cream cappuccino? Am I drinking fake coffee? How do I feel about this?
Okay. In my novel-in-progress, I have a character who used to be a bit of drug dealer, causing me to do some fascinating research during which I stumbled upon the current explosion of vaping, or the use of an electronic device (a PV, or Personal Vaporizer) to vaporize and breathe in nicotine and flavoring, as a substitution for smoking. (This was a side-line of my drug dealer research, as vaping is about nicotine, not marijuana. Although there IS also vaporizing cannabis wax and hash oil using a different sorts of specialized vaporizers. FYI.)
Most often people come to nicotine vaping from cigarette smoking, because vaping is a good delivery device for nicotine, lacking as it does all the cancer-causing components of smoking such as the burning as well as the additives. Smokers tend to find vaping via the cig-a-like devices and ejuice (the flavor/nicotine fluid that gets vaporized in these things) that tastes like tobacco. Then, when they desire more performance (maybe increased flavor, or longer battery life, or more vapor, or longer time between refills of ejuice) they might move away from cigarette-like contraptions and toward not-cigarette-like-at-all devices and what they can deliver. They might also discover that they prefer ejuice that tastes like cherries or a cappuccino or cupcakes, rather than tobacco. They might end up sucking their water vapor out of a thing that looks like a lightsaber and tastes like strawberry cheesecake.
In other words, the further you go on the vaping spectrum, the less vaping has anything at all to do with smoking.
Like my coffee with no caffeine, no sugar, and no dairy?
I caught up with a friend of mine recently who, coincidental to my late-night internet research, has become a vaper. She used to be a smoker, but she quit. She looked awesome, had lost fifty pounds, her skin was clear, she was exercising for the first time in years (because she can get a breath!). She attributed it all to vaping, which allowed her to give up her pack a day habit in exchange for strawberry and chocolate flavored vegetable glycerine and a set up that looked kind of like a steampunk device screwed onto a cell-phone sized brick of a battery painted with pink skulls and adorned with Swarovski crystals. This was an “ecig” the way a Tesla is like a Ford model-T.
I tried it. It reminded me of those candy cigarettes they had when I was kid (do they still have them?) that you could breath through to emit sugar “smoke” while you pretended to inhale carcinogenic toxins and be cool on the playground. Oh how we loved those when I was a kid! After you’d blown all the “smoke” out, you ate the tube and got a sugar high. Sugar is awesome. My friend had a couple of tanks (meaning I got to try a couple of juices) that she screwed into her battery, allowing me to take a few puffs. VapeDudes No-Bake Cake. Virgin Vapes Death by Chocolate. Suicide Bunny’s Mother’s Milk, which tastes sort of like strawberries and cream. She likes the sweet ones, obviously.
Most of what the juice she had contained nicotine—but she confessed that she has been buying some ejuice with zero nicotine, because she likes the flavors but doesn’t want that much nic per day. Thus the 50 pounds lost! She vapes the ghost of her favorite deserts instead of eating them! Which leaves exactly ZERO of the original smoking habit intact. Like my coffee-less coffee?
Considering the diseases that come with being 50 pounds overweight, even if you ignore the SMOKING that she isn’t doing any more, she’s doing world’s better than she was a year ago when I last saw her…whatever dangers there might be to vaping.
And I can’t find any dangers. Seriously. While I can find plenty of media articles on the alleged “dangers of vaping,” I can’t find any actual studies that show anything of the sort. And I CAN find studies that say they have found no risks at all. See here for a collection of reputable studies on the non-hazards (none so far detected anyway) of vaping. See here for thoughtful rebuttals with references to the most popular vaping myths.
I mean really, what the heck is all the fuss about right now what with all the bans you hear about and the whole FDA regulation shite that will put the whole DIY industry of ex-smoking pro-vaping converts out of business and hand it all over to the big tobacco companies…who have already demonstrated how much they value their customers health. It’s got to be about money, because it sure isn’t about the science. Unbelievable! The more I scratch the surface, the more disgust I am with the whole politicized hyperbole around this issue.
When I mentioned to my friend that vaping seemed like my coffee-without-coffee, like “smoking without the smoking,” she said, “Oh no. Vaping is so much better than smoking. No smelling bad. No coughing. No dying. Plus you get all these terrific flavors.” Vaping isn’t a shadow of the real thing, at least not for my friend. It’s better. Vaping is the smoking killer. (Which is probably why Big Tobacco is happy about the new regs.)
So, maybe it isn’t “fake.” Maybe it’s itself. It’s just different. We want our self-soothing habits and substances without the annoying inconvenience and side-effects that usually come with them, and we’re creative, so we keep coming up with new solutions to our addictions….and sometimes we come up with something better.
GODDANGIT. I want something like for coffee!! Something that offers all the pleasure my previous addiction offered, but is even better. Is it out there? Even the caffeine in chocolate is giving me trouble—which is simply terrifying. [me curled into a ball and rolling on the floor] No. No no no no….I will not be giving up chocolate, I can tell you that RIGHT NOW.
Wait. You can vape chocolate, can’t you?