After being introduced to the public in the early part of the 21st Century, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or ‘vapes’ as they are now widely known, have skyrocketed in popularity.

Is this because of the appeal to smokers as a safer way to get their nicotine hit? Or has its adoption by the bearded hipsters made it now the seemingly cool thing to do?

An independent survey revealed that 94% of people asked felt that e-cigarettes had become more than just an aid for a smoker to inevitably stop smoking. Instead it is widely felt that e-cigarettes have become something much more, its own subculture known as ‘vaping’.

Jack Hobbs, an employee at Steam Machine Portsmouth, stated “vaping has become more than just stopping smoking, it’s become a hobby, a community.”

So what’s the appeal? Nine months prior, the managing director of Steam Machine, Paul Cheapé, was selling e-cigarette fluids out of a bedroom. Five months later, he was turning over £10,000 a month, which has enabled Steam Machine to become the name on every vapers lips within Portsmouth. With a personal license already obtained, Paul hopes to have a bar up and running by January, complete with Xboxes and projectors.

“Vaping has become a subculture” Paul began. “Other shops just sell the basics and have little knowledge about the products. We source the world for the best flavours, and have staff capable of fixing any problems with your item.” The pride Paul felt for his business was clear. “We have a lounge for people to come in and try flavours, and a back area to have modifications done to your kit. We’re a lounge more than a shop.”

Surely then, it can be very daunting for someone who is trying to stop smoking to enter this community?

Paul countered this notion by stating, “the customers we receive are a 50/50 split. People come in here knowing what they want, others come in because they want a safer alternative to smoking and maybe don’t know where to begin. That why I always make sure I have someone on the door ready to help”.

One doesn’t have to look far on the internet to find various videos of people producing vast clouds of steam, or others producing videos mocking it. Of course, as with everything in today’s society, it is easy to find a wealth of memes poking fun at those who choose to partake in the vaping culture.

Yet Paul treats this mockery as nothing more than light-hearted banter. “I don’t mind it, it’s part of being a subculture, every subculture gets their fair share of abuse”.

So then are the people who are interested in places like these, those who are looking for a safe alternative to smoking, or is there the chance that people who have never smoked before find the massive plumes of vapour that can be produced appealing?

In the beginning, those who wished to stop smoking were faced with no more than tobacco or menthol flavour. Now flavours range from Monster’s ‘Rossi’ energy drink to the much love cocktail ‘sex on the beach’. This gulf in flavours is sure to only increase the appeal to those who wish to go smoke-free and also to those looking for a new hobby.

There are growing fears however, that many people do not realise that when they take up this hobby. they are still inhaling nicotine, which is the main cause of addiction amongst smokers. Due to this; as of 2016, e-cigarettes are set to undergo strict regulations and be treated as either tobacco or medical products, which could see a change in the way many people treat ‘vaping’.

However, an expert independent review published by the Public Health England (PHE) has concluded that E-cigarettes are 95% (at closest estimate) less harmful than smoking.

In conclusion it would appear that e-cigarettes have created this vaping culture that accepts previous and non-smokers alike. And whilst the health implications are as yet still unclear, it certainly seems to be a successful vice to aid those who wish to wean themselves off tobacco based products and is a culture that doesn’t look like disappearing anytime soon.

By Ryan Foy – December 04, 2015



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s