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Is Vaping Becoming a Cult?

In Peter Hajek's article in the scientific journal Addiction, and the interview about it published in the Health News section of the London Times, Professor Hajek commented that electronic cigarette use is a "grass roots phenomenon" that has spread by word of mouth and is not "commercially driven". This leads him to believe that the current attempt by Big Tobacco to commandeer the vaping supplies industry is a move inspired by "panic" and will not seriously impact the lives and habits of real vapers in the long run.

Shortly after the appearance of Hajek's study, an article appeared in The Verge, an online journal devoted to cutting edge trends in world culture, that may stand as a complete confirmation of the point. "This is my e-cig. There are many like it, but this one is mine," by Verge editor Dieter Bohn of San Francisco, suggests near cultic significance for the personal vaporizer. The sacralization of Bohn's mod found a prolific echo among Verge readers – within 24 hours there were 261 comments!

"You watch disposables appear at the corner bodega," says Bohn, "and know that they are not your e-cig and they do not come from your people. They are the first attempts by major tobacco corporations to co-opt your culture and and make it a commodity.... These companies want to de-weird it. To make it theirs."

Of course, many vapers take a much more traditional view than the Verge editor's. The vaping community is diverse. What unites vapers is their former enjoyment of smoking and their commitment to saving their lives, through the agency of "an instrument for delivering a tiny death so that I might forestall the desire for a true death, which is the true purpose of a cigarette." Many vapers will not wish to frame their attitudes toward their vaporizers in such grandiose mystical, and morbid, terms, but the goal is the same. And some of the comment is much more upbeat.

As one commentator says: "I agree 100% with the transformation of the culture. Rather than buying the same pack of Marlboro, people are doing much more. If you walk into a vapor shop, there are people mingling and showing their set ups, building coils, teaching each other, and talking about anything.... I, personally, love being part of that community because of the people, and my vape tastes like Strawberry Poptarts."

Says another: "You people and and your weird contraptions. I like it simple. I use a [simple] battery with a cartomizer. It’s small and doesn’t require a ton of maintenance other than recharging my battery or replacing the cartomizer."

Others are more pugnacious: "I don’t want to quit nicotine and don’t plan to. I like ecigs because I like the taste and I’m of the opinion that it may be better for me in the long run. I have no intent to ever lower the amount of nicotine because it’s my body and I’ll use whatever vice I want."

And some people just don't get it: "I read this article and the comment thread that followed and people talking about tanks and atomizers and mech mods and whatnot. And I now understand what my grandparents must feel like when me and my cousins talk about computers or phones…."

And some just love to admire cool mods: "I don’t know if I’m in love with you or I want to scream “NERD!!!”. Either way, awesome mod, Sir."

Vox populi, dudes!