The ban on smoking in the United States has given rise to a wide range of relatively new social phenomena. For one thing, smokers have had to withdraw from bars, pubs, restaurants, cafés and clubs. This, however, did not lead them back to house parties and nothing more, as some may have expected. As many former tobacco cigarette smokers continue to turn to electronic cigarettes, the environmental debate also finds its place in the discussion regarding these newly popular devices. The Food and Drug Administration’s verdict on how healthful these devices are is still out; yet, as a recent story shows, this hasn’t stopped ‘vapers’, as electronic cigarette smokers are known, from coming together and setting up a new type of establishment, entirely dedicated to them.
The Vintage Joye in Naples, Florida, is a ‘vapor lounge’—or, in simpler terms, a sort of café where people who regularly use electronic cigarettes can come together to enjoy each other’s company over coffee, wine, or other beverage of their choice. Owner Michael Minichiello says the atmosphere is as relaxed as in a regular chain café; he and wife Dorothy started out as e-cigarette sellers in July, then opened the lounge a short while afterwards. It has a bar which sits six, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV, as well as a décor which reminds many of the relaxed atmosphere of the glamorized, smoke-filled lounges of an era when smoking was considered an attractive habit.
The difference, Minichiello stresses, is that electronic cigarettes, which don’t contain any of the 4,000 cancer-causing substances of regular cigarettes, are not harmful to one’s health. And, as many of his patrons will have it, with backing-up from various electronic cigarette consumer comments, e-cigs are not detrimental to the environment, since they release no toxic substances into the atmosphere, in the shape of smoke. No tobacco or tar are being expelled. The electronic cigarette works according to the same basic principles that make hookah pipes work. Nicotine, contained in a cartridge of the device, is dissolved into propylene or vegetable glycol. This colorless and flavorless substance is also used in various segments of the food and drug industry, and has been employed as such for decades now.
While the FDA seems in no rush to approve the sale of electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking, it has also been prevented from prohibiting the importation of these devices from China. Meanwhile, an increasing number of former smokers are making the switch to the electronic alternative, either of their own design or on doctors’ orders. The future of vaping, yet unclear, certainly does seem to be popular.