Vape Culture: All smoke and mirrors?

A writer comments upon and investigates vape culture at University.

Francesca Read-Cutting
17th March 2022
Elf bars, geek bars, the list goes on. Vapes have become a central part of society - especially at University.

"What flavour vape you got?". The now too familiar one-liner of every night out, and one that I am definitely guilty of. It does not really matter what flavour it is, I'll inevitably pull a sheepish face as it gets passed over, relishing the hit of nicotine accelerating the alcohol buzz I've been slowly building. And the beauty is that 9/10 times I don't even need to leave the warmth of the building, as I would have been forced to do for a smoke. But is that also part of the problem?

Big tobacco have been cracked down on hard in the U.K., forced to cover their products in visually shocking images of the destruction they could cause. While most people are able to laugh these images off , they do force you to acknowledge what you are buying in to. This is a strong contrast to the toy-like packaging of disposable vapes, in bright colours and sounding like they count as one of your five a day.

I was incredibly interested in wider perceptions, so myself and The Courier passed around a survey to my friends, many of whom said they "felt violated" by the questions. The responses confirmed much of what I already knew first hand.

My findings showed that people agree with the statement that 'vaping smells nicer than smoking' and 'they would rather be around those who vape than smoke'. However, a range of negative side effects have been noticed, including a sore chest, dry throat, shortness of breath and predominantly a cough.

82% of those surveyed said they would not smoke as much as they vape, if vaping were not an option. Disposable vapes were by far the most popular type, with 40% of responders saying they get through at least three a month. There was an equal divide in whether 'disposable' was seen as an advantage.

60% of all responders claimed not to be addicted to vaping.

Interestingly, 85% agreed that vaping was too accessible, with one respondent emphasising "Absolutely. They are sold in marketshaker toilets! If I am drunk in a club I shouldn’t have the option to buy a highly addictive thing? Awful." While this responder described them as highly addictive, 60% of all responders claimed not to be addicted to vaping.

Overall, the survey confirmed that people are noticing a decline in their respiratory health associated with their vaping habits. Yet if the majority are not addicted, then why would they continue to put their health at risk?

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