There are many reasons why people choose to vape, but most do so as a healthy alternative to smoking. For obvious reasons, cigarettes are no longer smoked indoors throughout the developed world. While this is undoubtedly a smart move, it has had an unintended side-effect of making smoking an antisocial activity. It has made it into something solitary, almost sordid. But with a rise in awareness of the health benefits of vaping over smoking has come a proliferation of dedicated vape shops. These have made vaping a far more social alternative to tobacco, which brings with it a health benefit that many may not expect.
A Sense of Community
Smoking is a solitary habit, but quitting is even lonelier. When smokers eschew smoking for vaping, they find that they have become part of a community and an emerging subculture perpetuated by the high street presence of vape shops.
These are not only places where people can choose delicious-tasting e-liquids (also called vape juices) to get their nicotine fix; these are also places where people can join a community of like-minded people. In itself, this sense of community is an intrinsic health benefit of vaping. It helps to create an outlet for emotional and social health that is altogether absent from smoking.
A study by Harvard Health Publishing states that an intensive lifestyle change can be highly conducive to better general health. In addition to a good diet and regular exercise, the study finds that “research shows emotional and social health is associated with a reduced risk of disease and premature death.” With this in mind, could the presence of vape shops and their related social activity lead to the benefit of improved emotional and social health? Aside from the psychological and social benefits that come from being part of a community, today’s vape users find themselves at the vanguard of what could prove to be a vibrant subculture.
The Emerging Vape Culture
This culture is not dissimilar to coffee culture, and indeed, many vape shops have also taken to serving coffee so that patrons can sip and chat as they vape. Like coffee culture, it is hip and trendy and has connotations of vibrancy and youth. Unlike their tobacco-filled counterparts, e-cigarettes smell pleasant thanks to a variety of available flavors.
Vaping devices themselves come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and styles to allow for greater customization. The consumption of e-fluids is not so much a habit as a bonafide lifestyle choice that admits people of all ages and genders into an emerging vape subculture with an increasingly social nature. For example:
- Customers gather in vape shops to share their experiences with different devices and fluids.
- Younger members describe belonging to this community as “cool, fun and something new.”
- There is an emerging culture of vape-trick competitions and competitive games.
- Customers can get expert advice from professionals on which devices and fluids suit their needs and how to adjust their nicotine levels.
- There’s a wide range of devices and flavors that allows for inclusivity, catering to many tastes. Check out Burst E-Liquid for a few examples!
- Although vape culture is male-dominated at present, research indicates that women are twice as likely to start using e-cigarettes as men, which could lead to a more egalitarian culture.
The Benefits of Behavioral Support
The lion’s share of vape shop patrons share a history of smoking and view their immersion in vape culture as a way to prevent relapsing.
Of course, the reason why many convert to vaping is that it allows them a fix of nicotine without the harmful byproducts and carcinogens. But the rise of vape shops could offer former tobacco users something more. It’s something that could be equally powerful and important: a network of emotional and behavioral support. This system benefits former smokers in many ways that could prove life-saving;
- Engagement – The inviting atmosphere of these stores fosters feelings of commitment and is welcoming to new vapers.
- Non-clinical support – Those quitting smoking benefit from assistance in a non-clinical setting, like the kind offered by vape shop professionals.
- Atmosphere – Vaping shops can engender an atmosphere of support in which like-minded former smokers can share their stories and coping strategies to reduce the risk of relapse.
- Reaches the places nicotine therapy cannot touch – There is a social and behavioral aspect to smoking that is not addressed by nicotine therapies such as patches and gum products. Without consideration of these aspects, the chances of a relapse are likely to be increased.
Thus, while vape shop users get the social and behavioral support that comes with being part of a subculture, they also get the specific benefits which could prevent a lapse into tobacco use.
We all need social support structures; to be in the company of like-minded people who have our backs. It’s conducive to mental health and enriches our lives with meaningful social contact. By offering real social engagement without alcohol consumption, vape shops could potentially take these social support structures out of pubs, bars, and clubs and into an atmosphere that’s less damaging to health. This system could lead to the building of more helpful and healthy social support structures both to people who want to quit tobacco for life and those who seek belonging.
As the popularization of vaping culture leads to increased awareness and legitimization of these shops, it’s possible that the NHS could view them as a vital support system for those trying to quit smoking. If NHS employees give their staff greater training in handling withdrawal, it could lead to altogether healthier vape shops.
At Burst E-Liquid, we genuinely believe in the power of community when it comes to quitting smoking. We know many have kicked off the smoking habit thanks to vaping, and we welcome them to this growing subculture. Find out more about our company and our delicious e-liquids on our website!