I wasn't going to blog about this at first for fear it would be too "Adelaidean" for general consumption. But then, after seeing that it had been sucked into the whirling vortex of the Australian e-cig debate, I thought it would be good to. It is another piece of the political puzzle and indicative of the level of public knowledge about what e-cigs are and what they do.
Amongst the many rantings on Facebook and whatnots, a common theme was the complaint that, questionable decision-making by the Show aside, the article itself just wasn't very good.
Since we here at the Vapoureyes blog are generally fans of picking things apart to see how they work, I thought I would do the same with this article and see what comes out of it.
First, let's complain about all the things the article did wrong.
Why The Advertiser article was not much chop
1. The headline:
Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I've never smoked an e-cig myself. Smoking tobacco is bad enough - imagine the damage you'd do to yourself setting fire to and inhaling the smoke of one of these things! Plus - how would you get it to fit in a Tally Ho? To my mind it would be much easier to just use them as the manufacturer intended.
Dear The Advertiser editorial staff: you don't smoke e-cigs, and people who use e-cigs are not smokers. It's called "vaping", and we are called "vapers".
2. The second paragraph
Forced? Quarantined? Why so serious?
Dear The Advertiser writers: please refer to point number 1. Also - putting scare quotes around it doesn't make it any less wrong.
3. The "quote salad"
In the words of various Sesame Street characters: "three of these things belong together, three of these things are kind of the same, one of these things just doesn't belong here..."
We have three quotes explaining the reasoning behind restricting e-cigs at the show, then a sneaky fourth that has nothing to do with the first three, which is nothing more than an opinion. The way the quotes have been chopped up and re-ordered makes it sound like she's saying "they're going to be banned soon, so we're just getting in early", when she wasn't saying anything of the sort.
Dear The Advertiser writers: it would be nice if you just accurately reported things people say. Please?
4. The conflation of one organisation's decision with wider political issues
The Royal Adelaide Show made the decision to restrict the use of e-cigs purely of its own accord. According to General Manager Michelle Hocking, the decision was made primarily to protect children from the bad influence conveyed by smoking. This has nothing to do with the wider political debate about e-cigarette regulation and safety. Using political commentary to make it sound like a groundbreaking win in the anti-e-cig movement is a bit disingenuous if you ask me.
Dear The Advertiser in general: not every single story you publish has to push an agenda.
One must wonder: why did they make this decision? What catalysed this unforeseen move?
I think there are two main reasons.
Firstly, e-cigs have been in the news a bit lately, and there's a general feeling of ominous unrest about them thanks to the whipping up of the non-issue from certain public sectors. Perhaps the feeling of nascent hostility in the average citizen arises from the fact that nobody really knows what there is to be hostile about. Sensing this zeitgeist, the Show probably decided to take proactive action because "think of the children".
Secondly, when your average citizen hears "e-cig", they probably picture this:
...so in that sense I can understand why they didn't want some people wandering around the show puffing on them when kids can't tell the difference. In reality though, in all my time vaping, I have never seen anyone with one of these things. Does anyone even buy them anymore? Do they even sell them? They're like sooooo 2012!
Come to think of it, my APV has been mistaken for a lot of things: "why are you carrying around a dictaphone?" "why are you sucking on a bottle of aftershave?"; not once has it been mistaken for a cigarette.
Why the Royal Adelaide Show's decision to restrict e-cig use was not much chop
Reason 1: It's not even a problem.
Like myself, most fellow vapers I know like to stealth-vape anyway. The dirty looks I got from smoking in public were bad enough, the wide-eyed wary curiosity I get from vaping in public are just not the kind of thing I want to be bothered with at the Show. Plus, as our new favourite Tiser article says anyway, not even 2% of the Adelaide population are vapers. So why make a mountain out of a molehill?
Reason 2: It's not even enforceable.
If you catch someone smoking in a non-smoking area at the Show (as I did a few years ago when I came across one Mr Peter Goers enjoying a ciggie in the main thoroughfare within spitting distance of a designated smoking area), you can tell them off, or dob them in to Show staff, and they will get in trouble. What if you catch someone vaping? You can tell them off, or dob them in to Show staff, and beyond causing unnecessary trouble, what will it achieve?
Reason 3: It serves only to stir up further public fear about e-cigs
"Well, they were banned at the Show, so they must be bad!" Groan. Well-intentioned as it may have been, for a prominent public body to make a decision based on no evidence whatsoever is a bit myopic. Which leads me to...
Reason 4: It shows contempt for vaper's rights.
I chose to quit smoking. That's a good thing, right? No, you can go and stand over there with the smokers and inhale their second-hand smoke. I chose to keep using nicotine in a safer way that is not harmful to others. That's a good thing, right? No, vaping is bad because of Things, keep that stuff away from me! I choose to enjoy vaping in a discrete and considerate manner. That's a good thing, right? No, you weak-willed addicts can't be trusted, go over there. The proud human tradition of hostility towards the not-understood continues.
What should we do about the e-cig restrictions at the Adelaide Show?
1. Don't go. I probably won't go this year anyway. Again. Every year we say "aw! Wouldn't it be nice to take the kids to the show!" Then we remember the parking, and how much it costs just to get into the place, let alone the food and the rides and the showbags, and the time our three-year-old threw a tantrum because we bought him an ice cream, and we end up saying "nah, too hard, let's just go next year".
2. Go, but don't vape. Although that would make me very grouchy, meaning I wouldn't enjoy it, meaning no-one else would enjoy it, meaning we wasted upwards on $100 just to be annoyed for an afternoon, when we could've done that at home for free. Whose bright idea was this?
3. Go, and vape, but do it in the smoker's area. What, and get sideways glances from smokers now too? Spend my afternoon being the guy who thinks he's cool because he's not bad-ass enough to smoke? And come out reeking of tobacco smoke for my trouble? No thanks. Getting weird looks from smokers just takes the cake.
4. Go, and stealth-vape. Cool. Same thing I do everywhere anyway. Reminds me of when I would sneak ciggies in the shopping centre toilets as a teenager! Ah, the memories.
5. Go or don't go, but voice your opinion on it. These days we can comment on newspaper articles - go ahead and do it. Or, we can write a nice letter to the Show telling them that whilst we understand their thinking, there's actually a bit more to it than they may have first thought, and we'd be happy to explain it to them. Emphasis on the "nice" part.
One thing's for sure - the debate will rage on, but us vapers are a social media-savvy bunch, and that puts us at an advantage in the war on public opinion. So hit us up on Facebook and let us know what you think!