I was running down my street and was coming up fast on a guy walking. I saw a billow of strong white cloud and thought ‘smoker’, which would usually send me to the other side of the street, but then his hand moved to the pocket of his jeans and I realised he was vaping not smoking. This was the second vaper in a week that I had seen in my neighbourhood. Trying to keep a lid on my excitement I walked up to him and waved for his attention.
“I noticed that you’re using an e-cigarette, can I ask you about it?”
Sure he said. Apparently, people ask him about it “all the time.”
So his name is Bruce. I could tell from his accent and appearance that he was a White South African. He was vaping a 4th gen tank model with variable voltage, peach flavoured 6mg nicotine e-juice (“only a little bit of nicotine” he said as if it was bad to have more). Yes, he was an ex-smoker though he’d had a patchy on off start with vaping, first just vaping, then both vaping and smoking, then back to smoking because the guys at his new construction site were all smoking and now he’s back to just vaping.
He does intend to stop vaping altogether one day. In fact, he found that he could already put it down and go for about a week at a time without vaping at all. But at work, it helped to be able to vape when everyone else went for smoko.
Bruce has a young son but he doesn’t vape in front of him. He doesn’t smoke inside anywhere, even in bars. He said he was “respectful” of people not wanting to be exposed to smoke or vapour. But, he said he was finding the smoke annoyed him now. “It [vaping] puts you off smoking,” he said.
I said I thought it’d be okay for people to vape inside venues that are for over 18-year-olds, like bars. He said, “guess so, but some people would still not want it around them”.
He had noticed an improvement in his health, particularly he’d put on weight which was important for him because he was of slight build even now.
Bruce has no problem accessing his nicotine e-juice. He buys online and the e-juice comes from America. I asked if he knew anywhere where I could buy nicotine e-juice because my sister can’t afford to buy in bulk from overseas and he did tell me of the place in the city. So still not that accessible for my sister who lives an hour North of Auckland. I’d have to go check it out myself.
Back to people asking him about his e-cig. I told him that my sister finds she has to explain it to people and that she even lets people try her “vapo” as she calls it. He said it was the same for him and that he also let people try his. When we were talking about flavours, he asked if I wanted to try his. “Oh not with the nicotine thanks,” I said. I didn’t want to get re-addicted.
We both agreed that people were still pretty naive about e-cigs and vaping in New Zealand but that it was spreading.
I ended by saying “good on you for vaping” and got his number so I could interview him for an upcoming study of vapers. He was happy to help.
© 27 August 2015 Marewa Glover