Last evening, Reason co-sponsored an event at New York's great Museum of Sex titled "Thank You for Vaping," in which foes of the nanny state lit up electronic cigarettes (filled with all sorts of material!) in defiance of the Big Apple's new vaping ban. It was a swell time, as perusal of the press coverage can attest.
More than 300 e-smokers showed up for a "vape-in" at Manhattan's Museum of Sex Monday night to protest a New York City ban on indoor e-cigarette smoking. They thumbed their noses at e-cigarette prohibitionists by dancing and vaping the night away until well past midnight, when the ban went into effect. […]
Tara Lober, a 21-year-old from Brooklyn who attended the event, said she thinks the ban is silly.
"This is a health issue, yes, but I see it as closer to a civil rights issue," Lober said[.].
The scene might have been mistaken for a pickup spot—there were more than 100 bodies loose with booze, many toking on hookah-looking things. But those present consisted of vapers, what users of e-cigarettes and higher-tech nicotine-vaporizing devices call themselves, and they gathered to protest the city's indoor e-cig ban that took effect at midnight—by continuing to vape after 12 a.m. […]
One such vaper is Will Gallagher, a 20-year-old photography student who had a cigarette habit until he got into vaping.
"They make this out to be a bad thing when there really isn't a lot of information," he said of anti-vaping efforts. "It's really been a shoot first, ask questions later situation."
And, compared with smoking, "it's a much healthier thing," he added. […]
Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes helped lead the countdown from five before midnight, which was followed by shouts of "Illegal smoking, woo!" and "Outlaw!" as vapers breathed deep.
When Newsweek asked McInnes what brought him to the vape-in, he said he didn't vape or smoke but was "always a libertarian."
If SoHo's swanky Henley Vaporium was a sign that the vape scene has come out from underground and is penetrating the mainstream, last night's event seals the deal. (Henley founder Talia Eisenberg was there donning a "Fuck Big Tobacco" shirt.) Attendees mingled with glasses of wine and High Life, in a darkly lit venue strewn with Playboy magazines and a DJ mixing next to the cocktail bar.
It felt more like a fancy club than political protest, but the message was clear: get your hands off our vapes. If not for the benefit of the public health, than for the nascent industry attempting to distance itself from the toxic habit that society has been trying to kick for decades.
Inside, a diverse crowd of punks, 9-to-5-types, white hairs, 20-somethings, Army veterans, and artists puffed on nicotine vaporizers, the all-metallic devices that look like part of a vacuum cleaner, and "cigalikes," the smaller, cheaper sticks that look like cigarettes and probably have glowing tips. The smell of caramelized banana, Apple Jacks, and melon mixed in the air. […]
"This is the beginning. This is where this fight takes off," says Jenee Fowler, a thin woman with multicolored hair also known as Vape Girl on YouTube. Fowler's boyfriend Russ Wishtart, a vaping advocate who hosts a libertarian-themed podcast, recently joined a smoker's rights group in a lawsuit against New York City over the vaping ban.
Fowler is a former smoker, like many of tonight's attendees. She quit after she started using an electronic inhaler that vaporizes a nicotine solution in order to simulate the effects of smoking. Like many of tonight's attendees, she feels the e-cig ban is counterproductive.
"We were forced to be smokers because we were addicted," she says, taking a hit of something called "freckle-faced dragonberry." "Now we finally have our lives back."
Would she be observing the new rules that ban vaping in restaurants, bars, schools, within 15 feet of a hospital door, "public arenas where bingo is played," and so on?
No, she says. "I am going to vape everywhere." […]
McInnes was wearing the "College" shirt from the movie Animal House, which he said he had just watched. "We don't care if de Blasio puts us on double secret probation," he said. "We are going to release water vapors into the sky, because that doesn't hurt anybody."
"Five, four, three, two, one," the crowd counted down. "I'm breaking the law!" one man yelled, holding his e-cig in the air. "We're all breaking the law!" someone else yelled.
The police never came.