No matter how long you’ve been vaping for, there are certain unwritten rules that are generally followed. Many of these may seem to be common sense, but you may or may not be surprised how many people seem to ignore common courtesy. Along with vaping etiquette comes the vape culture. Every vaper is a piece of this culture, so even if you don’t participate in cloud competitions or attend conventions, that doesn’t mean you’re alienated from vape culture. On the contrary, it’s a testament as to how varied the culture really is. Before continuing, keep in mind that nothing you will read, particularly with regard to etiquette, will supercede the law or the rules set by private establishments.
Where is it okay to vape? According to science, anywhere! Reputable scientific studies have shown that vapor poses no risk to bystanders when compared to air. But that doesn’t mean ambient vapor isn’t annoying. It’s not harmful to smell bad cologne, stinky breath, or flatulence, but it’s common courtesy to spare your fellow human beings from being subjected to such things. The same goes for vaping. As pleasant as some vapor can smell, and regardless of any health effects or lack thereof, it’s simply not polite to vape near people who don’t appreciate it. There are arguments to be made about vaping in clubs or bars, but each situation requires your own judgment. A good rule of thumb: if you’re not sure it’s okay to vape where you are, you can either ask or simply go outside. Many vapers are opposed to going outside, but think of it this way: by going outside, you avoid the hassle of explaining yourself and possibly confrontation. Most people don’t vape to be trendy or to make a statement, and just want to go about their business. By avoiding a confrontational situation altogether, everyone gets to go about their business without too much hassle.
I like to use the movie theater example. Is it inherently wrong to vape in a movie theater? No. What if the theater is full? Well, in that case it’s probably a good idea to refrain from vaping. In addition to it being rude, it may get in the way of the projector and distract from the movie experience. What if the theater is empty? Since vaping would only affect you, it’s likely okay. However, if you’re asked to stop by staff, or if there are rules in place prohibiting vaping, then it’s not okay. This is why good judgment is important, and it can be difficult for some vapers to see the situation from another perspective. Would a vaper mind if someone is vaping near them? Most likely, no, they wouldn’t. However, a more accurate analogy would be, would a vaper be annoyed if someone sprayed perfume too close to their face? Probably, yes. It doesn’t matter how good the perfume smells, if the perfume has any health effects, or how interested the person spraying it is in perfume; it’s still inconsiderate. So before you vape in public, put yourself in other peoples’ shoes!
Another thing to consider is stealth vaping. By holding the vapor in your lungs for 5-10 seconds, there is little to no vapor on the exhale. Many times, this can be done anywhere without anyone noticing, but again, this may be breaking the laws or rules that are in effect in your location. Most of the time, you can stealth vape and nobody would even know that you’re doing it, but you run the risk of not doing it properly, which defeats the entire purpose. Also, residual heat from the coil can cause vapor to exit from your atomizer, which gives away what you’re doing too. Many people find stealth vaping a good alternative when trying to be courteous. It’s easier to stealth vape when MTL vaping, but it can be done with DL vaping as well. While there is no foolproof guide as to whether stealth vaping is a viable option, it is still important to use good judgment and to be aware if you’ll be breaking any rules.
Speaking of MTL and DL vaping, keep in mind that neither is exempt from common courtesy. If it’s not okay to blow huge DL clouds, it’s probably not okay to MTL either, unless stealth vaping potentially. There’s an ongoing debate in the vape community as to which vape style is “better.” On one hand, DL vapers have been known to sometimes view MTL vapers as inexperienced or unaware that DL vaping exists. On the other hand, there are MTL vapers who simply prefer it over DL vaping, and accuse DL vapers as obnoxious cloud-chasers who only vape to show off. In general, these people are the vocal minority. Either vaping style is fine if it’s better for you. Vapers have enough to worry about without fighting amongst ourselves. That being said, it’s no secret that the majority of vapers prefer DL vaping, which is why so many DL atomizers and high-wattage mods are being produced today. However, there is a wide middle ground where most vapers settle, and that is restricted lung hits. Atomizers designed for restricted lung hits don’t have ridiculous airflow and don’t necessarily produce competition-sized clouds, but they do produce more vapor and have more airflow than MTL vaping.
Keep in mind that different people need different experiences when vaping to get what they need. Some people prefer the hand-to-mouth action to replicate smoking as closely as possible, including how they inhale. Others prefer the actual vapor to be warmer and more voluminous in order to be satisfying. And yet other people prefer something in between. There’s no single correct way to vape, and it’s all about what you prefer. There are also people who stick to vaping mostly because of the community, or because they enjoy cloud competitions. It’s not that they’re “showing off,” it’s that the sense of competition and the hobbyist nature of vaping is the very thing that works for them. The point is, don’t write off fellow vapers just because they have a different preference. We’re all on the same side!
It can be frustrating when rules or laws seem unjust and based on incorrect information. Unfortunately, we are obligated to do so. In situations where there are no clear laws or rules, common sense and courtesy should be observed. Take note of who and what is in your general vicinity and consider what effect vaping will have. When in doubt, either find a new area to vape, stealth vape, or don’t vape at all. As much as we would like to, as vapers we can’t vape wherever we like. If we can’t collectively show that we can vape responsibly, then soon we may not be vaping at all.
On that note, be sure to check out the final chapter of this guide where we’ll be talking about vaping regulation and legislation.