“It’s 4/20? Oh, I do declare – I’m getting the vapors!” The past couple of years have been pretty interesting for smokers in Los Angeles. As cigarette-smoking has become virtually outlawed, e-cigarettes and vaporizers have become the norm. “Vaping” is what the cool kids are doing (I have no idea if this is true: I’ve been an ex-smoker for two years, and I’m notoriously out-of-touch with popular culture): Vaporizers look like a small mouthpiece similar to what an alto sax player would blow into, using glycerine liquid laced with nicotine and food flavoring – what the vapesters call “juices” – and a battery-powered atomizer in order to simulate smoking. Phew, that’s a lot of extra work when you could just buy a pack of smokes.
“Food flavoring”? With the use of food flavoring, the exhaled vapor kinda ends up smelling like Willa Wonka’s factory is on fire. Just get a load of some of the more popular flavors: cheesecake, blackberry limoncello, nut butter honey, hard candy… forget second-hand smoke, vaping may even be linked to second-hand diabetes.
The stanky vaping has crept into our dining experience lately, with hundreds of DTLA vape-heads arguing semantics with local restaurant staff: “It’s VAPOR, dude! This is not smoking… Fine, call the cops then. I’m gonna take another hit off my limited-edition tropical Starburst nicotine juice”. It was only a matter of time before the law fought the vape-heads, and thankfully this weekend, the law won. Effective yesterday, e-cigarette smoking and vaporizer vaping is banned from restaurants and bars in Los Angeles.
The argument for the ban is that there could be harmful particulate matter exhaled during the process of vaping, but the underlying subtext is that this shit is just plain annoying to everybody else in the restaurant. Bars were probably included in the ban to try and forestall any loss of vape-head business for the restaurants. I mean, how could they compete with unlimited vaping and finger foods?
Unfortunately, this ban could mean that the trend of vape “lounges” may continue, unabated, for years to come. I have one of these lounges downstairs in my building, and even though it smells like cotton candy down there 24-7, I can’t help thinking, “I sure do miss the smell of good ol’ fashioned cigarette smoke.”