Although ‘vaping’ has been around for some time now, for most of us it is still a relatively little known activity amongst the main stream. The comparative youth of this alternative to traditional forms of smoking tobacco means that definitions are yet to be fully qualified and the market is still shifting on an almost daily basis.
On the other hand however, enough is now known by the broader public that we have been asked to stock a number of vaping options within our product offering and, perhaps just as importantly, provide some guidance regarding what it’s all about, with specific reference to the products we have selected. In essence, we have done the hard work of learning about this new phenomenon, and then provided what we believe to be the best and simplest range of alternatives so that our customers can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labours!
So where to start?
Let’s start with the definition – vaping. Although not a universally popular term, vaping is often used to describe the use of e-cigarettes, but for pipe smokers the definition needs to be something broader. For us it has become the accepted term for ‘the enjoyment of products that provide a viable alternative to smoking pipe tobacco’. Vaping itself is a play on the essentially colourless and odourless vapour that is intentionally produced as a bi-product of the activity, in much the same way as smoking is the broad term for the enjoyment of combustible plant matter, most usually tobacco leaf, because it produces smoke.
What is the point of vaping?
Well this is really the whole crux of the matter! Why vape? And it’s here that we have to be very careful as many claims have been or are being made about vaping, in whatever form, that may or may not be true. Initially created as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, many of the benefits are directly targeted at the cigarette smoker. However, these also have an indirect benefit for pipe smokers as the definition of vaping broadens and the number and type of available alternatives increases. It should also be noted that, put simply, many of the benefits of vaping are speculative at this stage and it may be some time before enough evidence has been gathered to fully support certain claims, particularly those on the subject of health. There is also the issue that without hard and fast legal guidelines there can be some major differences in how people or organisations treat vaping and vapers. However, one can best summarise the main benefits as follows:
- It is not the same as smoking! As there is no combustion of tobacco and no smoke is produced for 2nd hand inhalation, vaping indoors and in public spaces is technically not illegal; however, many organisations such as airlines and restaurants are producing their own sets of rules about if, when and where vaping can take place and without doubt the legal discussions are only just starting
- The vapour produced is usually odourless and colourless and dissipates very quickly, much like steam or the water vapour from a humidifier; as such it does not leave a smell or discolour fabrics
- As there is no combustion there is no smoke, the part that can carry the nasties we know of in tobacco smoking; the assumption being made therefore is that vaping is significantly less harmful than traditional forms of tobacco use, and particularly those where the smoke is inhaled although none of these assumptions have been rigorously backed up yet by the science
- It is generally cheaper than many forms of traditional tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking
So what different types of vaping are there?
Having accepted that for Carey’s Pipe & Tobacco Shop vaping encompasses a broader range of activities than simply e-cigarettes, this is where things start to get really interesting! At this stage we do not believe that e-cigarettes are a product that would particularly appeal to pipe smokers and therefore we won’t spend any more time discussing them. With that in mind, the two most relevant vaping activities for our customers we believe to be Tobacco Vaporizers and E-Pipes.
In many ways these provide the best of both worlds for pipe smokers. Pipe tobacco is rare in the world of tobacco use in terms of both its purity and its flavour. As a result it is possible that other forms of vaping will not provide the flavour, variety and simple tactile enjoyment that pipe smokers are used to. Tobacco Vaporizers combine the advantages of using real pipe tobaccos with many of the benefits mentioned earlier. Put simply, these products originated in the world of marijuana smoking as a way to enjoy that form of plant material without the downsides of combustion based smoking. They have now become mainstream products, to a pipe smoker’s great benefit. By heating the tobacco rather than burning it, all of the flavour and nicotine aspects pipe smokers are used to still exist, but without producing the smoke so disliked by non-smokers. In essence they can be ‘smoked’ just like a traditional pipe but with few, if any, of the drawbacks. The Vaporizers we currently supply are only very short smoke models and would never replace a genuine pipe so we are trying to source larger capacity versions. However, as an introduction to vaping they are hard to beat.
These products are perhaps for the more adventurous or flamboyant pipe smoker! Less about trying to find a more socially acceptable method of enjoying one’s normal pipe tobaccos these tend towards the principles behind the original e-products as they provide a nicotine hit and the appearance of smoking tobacco – billowing smoke and what is termed a simulated ‘throat hit’ – without actually doing so. The flavours and nicotine in this method are delivered via a liquid that is stored either in a tank system or in a small cartridge, both easily and quickly refillable using ‘e-liquids’ (see below). The main advantage of this system is that for the adventurous vaper there are in principle a huge number of liquids available providing flavours ranging from traditional tobaccos to fruits to alcoholic drinks (!), and variable nicotine strengths. The main point of contention with this method however surrounds the quality of the liquids being consumed, and this is one reason why we have stayed clear of the market until now. The overwhelming majority of liquids being sold in the UK today, even through supposedly reputable suppliers, are sourced indiscriminately from China. This in itself is not a problem – after all as a society we’ve been buying all kinds of products from the Far East since the early days of ‘Made in Taiwan’. However, these liquids often come with claims and guarantees of the ingredients and therefore the safety, but there are no independent checks or licensing being undertaken. Our view has always been that quite frankly they could be made of anything and we weren’t prepared to take that risk and expose our customers to the possible consequences. However, we have now sourced Ecopure liquids made in the UK by a UK company applying their own rigorous standards and voluntarily offering their products for independent testing. You can read more about Ecopure here.
There is no doubt in our minds that vaping is here to stay, but its novelty amongst main stream society dictates that the legislation surrounding it has yet to catch up. However, we are confident that the products we have introduced to Carey’s Pipe & Tobacco Shop will enable those of our customers who may be interested to safely and simply enter the world of vaping and hopefully be able to extend, enhance and enjoy their pipe smoking pastime with fewer limitations and concerns. As always, we’d be interested to hear your comments.
For a more detailed look at our full range of vaping products please click here.