Thank you for vaping

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

THE FIFTH COLUMN

Of all vapers, devotees with large handsets interest me the most.

At first, I assumed the device was the sole province of gamers (it fills the palm like a joystick), but I soon realised that such typecasting undercuts the appeal of the biggest smoking device to date.

Over the course of the past five years, I’ve seen people of a variety of ages and vocations suck on their cylinders as if preparing to go underwater. Often, in public, I notice them with small bottles of oil, tending to their instrument with the care and dedication of a hunter cleaning his or her weapon. They’ve brought ritual back to smoking — I’m sure pipe smokers will agree.

In malls, vape shops aren’t confined to the sides of the hallways — they’re out in the open, their shop assistants always vaping themselves to draw in customers. Underneath the glass counters a wide variety of dessert flavours literally makes your mouth water. Blueberry cheesecake and banana nut bread cater to confectionary lovers; mid-morning latté and java jump to caffeine fiends.

A brightly coloured version in a juice box targets a market still sucking on pacifiers. A tough sell, you might think, but with names like One Mad Hit Juicebox and Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce, who knows?

On my way to work, I notice a car that appears to be on fire. Smoke billows from the driver’s window, stops and starts up again. There’s an unbelievable amount of smoke trailing behind the car, giving it the appearance, momentarily, of a comet flying through space. I fear for the safety of the occupants both on a pulmonary level and in terms of visibility on the driver’s part.

I gain on the car, cellphone in hand to alert the authorities, but on closer inspection it’s clear they’re vaping. The vaper in the passenger seat appears to be loading up and hardly notices me, but the driver shoots me a friendly glance, nods and pushes another mist bank from his lungs.

I’ve never considered taking up vaping, on account of the cost. For the moment, I’m very happy to enjoy the flavour of a bran muffin in someone’s wake or filling up on strawberries in an elevator.

I have to admit, the lack of literature on how to quit vaping is also a concern.

By all accounts, the pastime has no discernible health risks — it’s tar-free, I believe — and doesn’t stain your fingers, but what if the day arrives when I want to, have to, put it down?

What then? Will I have to soldier on to become that guy who lives to 99, most of it in the fast lane, chain-vaping? Would it prove that it doesn’t matter what you do in this life — vape, eat sugar, drink tap water — your body simply adjusts?
I’d rather not find out.

I’d prefer to continue watching humanity find new ways to ingest nicotine; sit on the sidelines and observe our species forego style and common sense to enjoy this singular pursuit. I’d take heart, for if vaping proves nothing else, it proves this: in the endeavour to numb the pain, where there is a will, there is a way.

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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