Vapor Conflict: E-Cigarettes Ignite Debate About Smoking in Bars and Restaurants
People I talked with about e-cigarettes generally told me they smoke them for one of two reasons: Either they're trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, or they want the freedom to smoke anywhere and everywhere.
Photo courtesy Blu Cigs Even celebrities like Jenny McCarthy are endorsing e-cigs. Of course, she also says not to vaccinate your kids, so ...
"I'm not going to smoke an e-cigarette while I drink scotch," a friend told me at a bar one evening as she inhaled deeply on a traditional cigarette. "I'm not trying to quit smoking. I just like to be able to smoke on airplanes or in restaurants."
Another friend echoed her opinion. "Did you know you can put weed in them and get high while you're on an airplane?" He asked. I'm not entirely sure how that works, but he swore it was possible.
I asked a nonsmoker what he thought about e-cigarettes, and his answer surprised me, because generally, people seem to tolerate their use. "I know the long-term effects of smoking cigarettes," he said, "but I don't know the long-term effects of smoking e-cigarettes. What if I smoke them for 50 years and suddenly doctors discover they're bad for you, too?"
It's an interesting question, and one that is still very much up in the air. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more children and teens are using e-cigarettes because there are few age restrictions on their purchase. This, coupled with the tasty nicotine flavors available for e-cigarettes (everything from gummy bears to s'mores), makes health professionals worry that they could result in children smoking traditional cigarettes.
Advocates note that because e-cigarettes don't contain any of the chemicals that are thought to cause cancer, they're safe to smoke, but the CDC says that more studies need to be done.
Photo courtesy ProVape The components of a ProVape cigarette.
So what if they are perfectly healthy? What if they're no worse than a glass of wine or a cup of coffee? If nonsmokers knew for a fact they weren't victims of secondhand smoke, would they stop complaining?
Maybe. I asked some of the bartenders at wine bar Camerata -- where I noticed several folks smoking e-cigarettes -- if people using the contraptions indoors bothered them. I also asked staff at new bar Lowbrow and at Underbelly, and everyone pretty much had the same sentiment: "I don't care."
I've noticed a slight odor from e-cigarettes when my friends smoke them around me. It's not an offensive smell, more of a sickly sweet aroma. I've also witnessed smokers of e-cigarettes blowing vapor any which way they want, rather than turning away as smokers of traditional cigarettes might so as not to blow smoke in a friend's face. But with e-cigarettes, it's just vapor, so people seem less careful.
I've yet to see someone use an e-cigarette at a restaurant like Tony's or Brennan's, but it's probably only a matter of time. In my mind, smoking an e-cigarette at an upscale restaurant is no more offensive than chewing gum at the table. But eventually, it will be up to the city and state to make the final judgment.
What do you think, readers? Should e-cigarettes be allowed in bars and restaurants?