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Rich Urban Yuppies Set to Make Cannabis Vaping the Summer’s Status Statement


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New York magazine e-cig polling question

New York’s two top magazines, The New Yorker and New York, have blogs today about e-cigs and vaping—a sure sign that electronic smoking has become a status symbol of “cool.”

The New Yorker takes readers to San Francisco, the only city in the US with a pricier real-estate market than New York. The Bay Area is also the scene of a vape culture that many vapology specialists view as the nation’s most innovative, “commingling two very California tendencies: tech savvy and hippie culture.” Many local e-cig consumers are using the devices to get buzzed on cannabis rather than nicotine, and they are forking out several hundred dollars for portable vaporizers with high-end tech-and-design pimpetry.

“I was in a museum last week, hitting my vape, and a random older man looked over at me,” one vaping yuppie told The New Yorker. “And this happens all the time in this town. You can tell that they’re looking at you and embarrassed to ask to smoke it. I always share. It’s like Google Glass—everyone wants to give it a try.”

The New Yorker treats us to three ultra-luxe brands, complete with prices and quotes from the makers that read like the vapid ad copy they no doubt are. The Firefly looks like a “retro Motorola cell phone.” The Magic-Flight Launch Box resembles a small metronome with cherry or walnut casing. PAX is a palm-sized black-aluminum featureless cylinder that positively screams INCONSPICUOUS—the ne plus ultra in conspicuous consumption.

New York’s piece has the results of a man-on-the-street poll of 100 New Yorkers’ e-cigarette smarts. Most of the questions center on new citywide regulations that ban vaping not only in restaurants, bars, offices, classrooms and other indoors but also in outdoor public spaces, such as Central Park.

New Yorkers flunked the new-regs queries. This ignorance may be a sign less of the citizenry’s cognitive capacity than of the extent to which the island of Manhattan has become a gated community for the global 1%, who believe that laws are only for little people in the boroughs and beyond. But based on the poll’s other results, it is not matched by ignorance of e-cigarettes.

One-third of those polls said that they have vaped at least on one occasion. Given that an estimated 15% of New Yorkers smoke, the relatively high rate of vaping suggests that a majority of vapors are indulging for reasons other than smoking cessation. Two-thirds of those polls are not bothered by vaping indoors, and even more are cool with it on airplanes. But most New Yorkers agree that indoor vaping should be illegal because, as New York’s vapologists explain, “it just feels wrong.”

In related news, the electronic cigarette industry is racing to run print, TV and online advertising in advance of expected FDA restrictions.