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Vape-In protests new public vaping ban in NYC

New York City vapers greeted the commencement of the new public vaping ban with a bit of civil disobedience, held with sassy bravado at the city's Museum of Sex. The pugnacious spirit of the festivities signals the healthy audacity that characterizes what municipal nannies have turned into a vigorous social movement.

Those attending the event were met at the door of the museum's lounge, "Play" with the greeting "Thank you for vaping!" When queried about plans to observe the ban or flout it, one participant replied "I am going to vape everywhere," according to The Verge, an e-zine devoted to "the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture." "This is the beginning. This is where the fight takes off," she continued. Henry David Thoreau, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King would be proud.

The Verge reports that all ages were represented, as well as a variety of social types from veterans to artists, from "9 to 5-ers" to punks. The event, sponsored by libertarian-leaning Reason magazine and vape lounge The Henley Vaporium, began at 9 pm, with plans to break the new law at 12:01 am (00:01), one minute after it was to take effect. The evening's program included presentations by Bill Godshall of SmokeFree Pennsylvania and Gilbert Ross, medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, according to a report by ABC News.

Of course the possibility loomed that "the Heat" might show up at the crucial moment to raid the impromptu "Vape-Easy" (just like in the old gangster movies about "the other Prohibition"), but they never did. At midnight, Reason editor Matt Welsh and writer-prankster Gavin McInnes (of the magazine Vice) led a countdown, followed by the joyous shout: "We're all breaking the law!" But no gumshoes appeared with handcuffs.

A poster soliciting donations for an "e-cig ban lawsuit" depicts the mayor bending over with his pants down, with a caption proclaiming "The most important butt to kick is the government's." (See photo #8 at the bottom of The Verge article.)

The playful civil disobedience of the event characterizes the vaping movement, both in the US and in Europe, where overzealous regulation threatens to limit the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method by placing an unrealistic (and scientifically unjustified) cap on nicotine concentrations. This attitude suggests that opponents will not succeed in deterring the vaping industry or its consumer base. Overweening control has turned simple users into passionate members of a cohesive social movement, one that is prepared not only to flout the law, but also to use social media and its apps to keep vaping alive. Movements of this type, once set in motion, cannot be quashed, once they have taken root in a devoted public.