I smoked cigarettes for 18 years, then quit by accident. I ran out of smokes one night, didn’t feel like going to the store, and decided to use some e-cigarettes that a friend had given me long before. I had tried them earlier, but I hadn’t really given them a chance. After messing around with them, I decided they worked for me. Then I looked into the marketplace for newer, better e-cigarettes and found a huge mess of flavors and devices I could try out. At some point, looking into this, I decided to quit. It’s been a month, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve quit anything, which is good. I always enjoyed smoking, the action of it and the chance to take stock and think while I burned one; now, I do this as I vape, and the flavors are tastier. It’s also cheaper, it’s cleaner, and it’s more flexible. The health benefits are a side issue: even if vaping is not 100% risk-free, I accept some risk with my vice, especially given that this risk has to be less than that of regular cigarettes. The choice, for me, is not and will never be between smoking and not smoking. I like smoking. The choice revolves around what I smoke, and coincidentally, I like the option that looks the best for my health. Without it, I’ll just go back to smoking regular cigarettes. I don’t begrudge anyone a smoke, and will continue to think that, in a society which is supposedly predicated on individual responsibility, people can make risky decisions with their eyes open. Vaping works well for me, seems to work well for many other people, and needs to be allowed the primary thing that can help it to prosper as a smoking alternative: SPACE. One particular issue bothers me. It has taken years to firmly establish the dangers of cigarette smoking scientifically, and some people in that industry still haven’t given up defending them as benign. The scientific testing methods we have for something so complicated as the health effects of something on the human body do not lend themselves to simple, straightforward, certain proclamations on safety. Given how easy such procedures are to obfuscate, I fear that a knee-jerk reaction to the new product based on fear, one which demands that e-cigarettes be proven safe before being allowed to continue being sold, could and would screw up the potential this has to reduce the use of regular cigarettes. It would be entirely too easy for someone determined to eliminate everything that looks like smoking to stretch the FDA safety testing process out forever or misinterpret the results, becoming an active block to those who benefit from vaping. This needs to be kept from happening. I’ve seen articles about the dangers of e-cigarettes with no legitimate information but only vaguely referencing chemical similarities of vapor to the stuff in radiator coolant; such writing is scientifically meaningless. By all means, test away – information is better than no information – but the future of vaping should not depend on conclusive proof of their safety when they are substituting for a product already known to be dangerous. It can’t possibly be worse, only more or less better. The anti-smoking crowd needs to relax, or be met head-on by a strong organization that distributes sound information and, if necessary, fights fire with fire in the attention economy.