Vaping can be defined as the act of inhaling vapor [sic] from e-liquid through a personal vaporizor [sic].
As a reformed smoker, I now despise cigarettes, predictably.
But I can still remember why I once thought cigarettes were cool and why, as a teen, I deliberately cultivated a habit. My idiotic adolescent self loved smoking because of these reasons: Thin White Duke-era Bowie in black and white, exhaling smoke from his flaring nostrils; Brett Anderson (I was young), fag in hand and painfully thin (covered in glitter on a council estate, or similar); Johnny Marr in the booth recording Nowhere Fast, a tab end dangling from his lip; Jarvis Cocker posing theatrically with a cigarette, all limbs and fringe. The cool boys smoked – the emaciated, androgynous ones – and I wanted to go about with them.
As a teen, I imagined my life was being documented by some invisible photographer and I thought I’d look good smoking in the black and white pictures that would inevatibly emerge (probably after my quite-young, tragic and romantic death). Nowadays, smoking only looks good in black and white (i.e. the past, when cigarettes were okay because no one knew any better).
According to The Internet, over two and a half million people in the UK now ‘vape’. While I applaud anything that helps people quit fags, let’s face the fact that vaping is really annoying and it will never be cool.*
You’re never going to look like Serge Gainsbourg with a vaping stick in your hand. Phillip Marlow never solved a crime whilst inhaling nicotine-infused water vapour. Charles Bukowski didn’t get his craggy face from using ‘vape gear’, he ruined his skin the old-fashioned way – with hard drinking, self-loathing and chain-smoking.
Serge Gainsbourg and Kate Moss: Proper smokers
According to the Vapor Soul guide to vaping and the vaping community, ‘Vaping can be defined as the act of inhaling vapor [sic] from e-liquid through a personal vaporizor [sic].’
‘E-liquid’? ‘Vaping community’? There’s so much to hate about vaping. I particularly despise the self-satisfied expressions of restaurant and bar vapor-users, which seem to say, ‘Can I shock you? You thought I was smoking but actually I’m vaping.’ House of Vapes, the vaping emporium in Shoreditch, actually has a ‘no smoking’ sign precociously displayed on its front door (because it’s not actually smoking, yeah?).
My dislike of vaping has increased in proportion to vaping retailers’ attempts to fetishise vaping paraphenalia. ‘Vaporizers’ seem always to be spelt with a ‘Z’, which is so much cooler than a boring old ‘S’. And they can be purchased in all manner of colours and finishes (including stylish matt black, which looks like a piece of high-tech surveillance equipment). ‘E-liquids’ (yep, you heard) come in a wide variety of flavours, including ‘tobacco’.
Vaping is potentially useful as a transitory aid to stopping smoking, but let’s not try and make it A Thing; let’s not encourage vaping as a lifestyle choice. It’s not stylish and it’s certainly not sexy. It’s a sorry little habit. Please, let there never be a ‘vaping community’. And let’s stop replacing all the S’s with Z’s.
*I hope this won’t come back to haunt me, like in the nineties when my dad said text messaging would ‘never catch on.’