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Monday, July 28, 2014 | Last updated: 5:37pm

E-cigs spark smoking etiquette revamp



As the old adage goes; “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

Electronic cigarettes may not actually be ducks, but they are quacking.

Despite our perception of e-cigarettes as a new form of smoking, they look like cigarettes, put off a smoke-like substance and expel an odor that many find unpleasant.

Why, then, are electronic cigarette smokers not held to the same standards of decency as traditional cigarette smokers?

E-cigarettes are popping up everywhere. People use them at home and at work, in the car and on the bus. They smoke them in stores and in bars — sometimes even in class.

At my job, I see e-cigarettes more and more — often worn around necks like medals of defiance. I also have the joy of watching customers use the devices as they browse around, leaving a cloud of shitty piña colada vapor in their wake.

Because of a perceived lack of danger associated with smoking e-cigarettes, some rudely use them without asking others if it’s OK to do so.

I understand that e-cigarettes are meant to be healthier than regular cigarettes. I know that the vapor isn’t smoke, and I found no research saying it’s harmful to people like secondhand smoke is. I much prefer e-cigarettes to normal cigarettes.

But e-cigarettes are still very annoying and distracting. Their noxious, crappy hookah smell wafts through a room like nerve gas. Like other cigarettes, they can cause eye or allergy irritation, and the smell can make some nauseous.

For years, cigarette smokers have been subject to laws restricting their smoking behavior for reasons of health and safety. But they are also bound to a social contract based on politeness. The decorum for smokers has long included a mindfulness for how cigarettes may offend others.

I don’t necessarily want to see e-cigarettes banned from UA, or anywhere; I only hope to see the same basic etiquette used with e-cigarettes as with real cigarettes. E-cigarette smokers must take on the same responsibilities for their actions as regular smokers have.

I’m not alone in believing that the same social codes should apply to these new, fancy smokers.

I conducted a brief survey of UA students and found that most reacted negatively when asked their opinion of normal cigarettes while expressing indifference to e-cigarettes. However, students did feel that users of e-cigarettes should hold themselves to the same rules of etiquette as those who smoke regular cigarettes.

Liberal arts sophomore Lucero Amavizca feels that electronic cigarettes allow users to exploit a legal loophole.

“Since e-cigarettes are fine to be smoked indoors, they do skirt laws,” Amavizca said. “I find it disrespectful to smoke indoors. I believe smoking is smoking, and [e-cigarette smokers] should be subjected to the same rules [as all smokers].”

A lack of rules, partly due to how new e-cigarettes are, has left many questioning what the etiquette and policy around e-cigarettes should be. Some places allow e-cigarettes while others, such as airlines, ban them.

New York City and Chicago have started to instate laws and policies about when and where e-cigarettes can be used.

But in many places, users are still subject to the whims of individual employees and managers who are just attempting to fill a policy gap.

A set of simple guidelines can be used in all of these situations.

If someone is near enough that you can poke them with a 5-foot pole, then ask first before smoking. If they say no, relocate or wait.

If you are surrounded by four walls and a ceiling, exit before smoking. If you cannot exit a room because it does not have doors, smoke away — you have bigger things to worry about.

Finally, never, ever blow vapor directly at someone. This may seem an obvious point of politeness, but it happens to me weekly.

Use if you must, but just be considerate of us who really don’t want to be around smoke. It’s like passing gas: We try to wait until we’re somewhere safe and secluded, so we don’t offend others.

Don’t fart in my face.

Eric Klump is a journalism senior. Follow him @ericklump.


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