I recently saw a post on Facebook or one of those things people are into on the Internet these days. It was a bunch of shots for a vape lounge opening somewhere in Middle America. In that image, there was the obligatory flat screen TV and XBox 360 setup.
So far things sound normal, right? What if I told you the picture also featured a 7-year-old girl playing a video game?
My gut reaction is “are you people out of your mother truckin’ minds?” But, like many issues, there’s always several angles to look at here.
I think most vapers would agree that there’s little to no harm posed to bystanders, so it’s not exactly the kid was put in harms’ way or anything. I vape freely around my kids without worrying about harming them or normalizing anything. Trust me, there’s nothing normal about my offspring!
We also live busy lives these days. Sometimes it’s not always feasible to hit a vape shop without a rug rat in tow. Several of the shops local to me allow supervised kids for exactly that reason.
But then there’s the other side of this thing. Opponents of e-cigarettes are convinced that grownups not smoking are some sort of ruse to get our impressionable youth to eventually pick up the cancer sticks. As idiotic as it is to think being in the mere presence of vapers and a place that sells vapor stuff, kids might become corrupted by the ordeal.
Clearly that’s not true. It’s just as valid to say by letting kids into vape shops we’re also going to normalize tattoos and weird hair (I’ve been to enough shops and meets to know what we look like here). But what it really might do is taint the public perception and get more people into the corner of the prohibitionists.
Is it a completely superficial concern? You bet it is. But guess what? We don’t exactly live in a society that tends to go the extra mile and look below the surface to get the heart of the issue. We are a society of talking heads and click-grabbing headlines.
Ok, I know you’re sitting there saying you’re a much deeper person than that. That’s great, you think just like everyone else. Nobody wants to think they’re the shallow ones.
Even if it’s true and every vaper ever isn’t shallow, the rest of the world is and they see kids hanging out in a vapor-filled store with tattooed and oddly coifed people, what exactly do you think they will assume?
I agree, it’s a totally stupid thing to have to rearrange your life around. There’s a vape shop right next to a Firehouse Subs I end up going to with one or more of my kids at least twice a month and it’s hard to resist the temptation to pop in. I’m sure I’ll one day break my personal embargo, and I don’t particularly fault anyone who goes with the convenience (or necessity).
But are we sending the right message? Comment away.