Remember the good old days? Back when ’Merica was still a free country? You know what I’m talking about, right? Back when god-loving, red-blooded Americans could hold their heads high and just know they lived in the greatest, freest gosh darn country in the whole wide world. Am I talking about the assault on guns, you say? Is this a Second Amendment thing? No, dear reader, not at all. And nope, ladies and gents, I’m not talking about prayer in our schools. It’s worse than all that. I’m talking about smoke. I’m talking about cigarette smoke out on the streets, smoke clouding up bars and restaurants. I’m talking about my god-given right to fill other people’s lungs with my poison. I mean, what happened to America? An honest fellow used to have no trouble hurting others with his own freedom, but now, I just don’t even recognize my beloved U S of A anymore.

            No. Sorry. All jokes aside, let’s be clear. I hated the “good old days.” I hated breathing in other people’s cancerous filth any time I wanted to enjoy a night out. If they wanted to kill themselves with cigarettes, that was fine by me. But they had no right to take me down with them. And today, I have no sympathy for the smokers I see out on the curb in the freezing cold, huffing down their cigarettes while I enjoy a meal in the cozy warmth of my booth and breathe in the fresh air. I know I’m not alone in these sentiments. I know many, like me, rejoice when public smoking bans come to their cities. And they should! But unfortunately, my many like-minded friends have become something of a problem when it comes another matter that bears only a passing resemblance to cigarettes, and something needs to change.

            Because listen. I believe in reason. I believe in making decisions and passing laws based on credible evidence. And recent efforts by places like New York City to outlaw public vaping don’t live up to such standards.

            First and foremost, let’s investigate the ignorance and the fear and replace it with truth. Cigarettes are made of tobacco, paper, and a whole host of poisonous chemicals whose names I can’t even pronounce. Apply fire to all this and a chemical change takes place, rendering what was a solid into smoke and ash. These things don’t just disappear. They have to go somewhere. Like your lungs. Or in your eyes. Or on your clothes until you stink like an ashtray. Not to mention the wider environment, and I’d say our air is dirty enough without smokers adding their share. If that smell can linger for hours on your skin, imagine how long it lingers in your lungs as an irritant and a carcinogen. In other words, we have good reason to protect the average person (and Mother Nature) from Mr. Chimney’s chain smoking.

            So, when people hear the term e-cigarette instead of vapes, vaping, vaporizing, etc., and then they see massive clouds flowing from people’s mouths (you know you vapers like to blow storm clouds!), they somewhat reasonably think we’re in the same ballpark as cigarettes. But the truth is this: there’s no fire and there’s no solid substance converting into smoke and ash. What we have instead is heat (again, not fire) applied to a water-based fluid. This produces a vapor that disperses within seconds rather than a lingering smoke that spreads throughout the air. A conversion does take place when ejuice is heated, but because ejuice contains none of the harmful chemicals that cigarettes do, that conversion poses no threats to bystanders. And as a test, check your clothes after you’ve hung out with a vaper. Smell anything? Didn’t think so. That’s because there’s nothing there. Everything quickly dissipated into the air. If nothing sticks to your clothes, I’d say your lungs are in good shape too.

            Of course, there’s more to this than just reason. There’s that self-righteousness I mentioned earlier. Let’s face it – many people look down on smokers. Many people think smokers are dirty people with no self-control. In their ignorance, these self-styled judges lump vapers in with smokers. Obviously, this needs to stop. Judgment never gets us anywhere, but it also blinds us to the good that can come from vaping. Most vapers were once smokers, so more vapers mean fewer smokers, and that means less nasty smoke in the air and fewer people slowly killing themselves with Big Tobacco’s poisons. That’s a win-win situation all around, and we should be doing everything we can to support it. Consider an analogy. Would we want to tell a recovering alcoholic that he can’t drink non-alcoholic beer in a restaurant, even though it helps with the oral fixation that comes with drinking? Of course not. So why would New York City or any other city want to get in the way of people putting down dangerous cigarettes and picking up a safe alternative like vaping? It’s just plain nonsense. We want alcoholics to get sober, and we want smokers to get healthy.

            So, should e-cigarettes be banned from public places? I think the answer is pretty clear. Once you remove the ignorance, the groundless fears, and the self-righteous moralizing, arguments in favor of banning don’t have a leg to stand on.