How to Talk with Smokers
As I sit and write this I have a virus. I’ve had a few close calls since winter started and they seem to go away after a day. It’s easy to put that down to vaping is healthier, therefore, I’m immune from viruses but the fact is even the healthiest people can catch a cold. I have to say that this one seems milder than the ones I remember from last year but the way this bug is going I’ll probably hit the peak of the virus overnight tonight and do some suffering tomorrow. I hate colds & flu.
What’s this going to do with “How to Talk with Smokers? Absolutely nothing other than hinting at some future blog topic. I’ll see how this virus pans out first.
In my previous blog entries, I’ve been offering some alternative approaches to getting started with vaping with that first week or two being vital to long-term success with vaping as a tobacco replacement strategy.
If you’ve made it that far you may have already copped a bit of ribbing from family, friends or co-workers or in my case complete strangers.
You see, I’m an open vaper. I do everything vaping I used to do smoking. This means vaping while walking down the street or hanging around the smokers section when going out.
Inevitably, someone is going to say something. You’ll be mocked, teased and generally made to feel stupid but let me guarantee one thing….If you are being teased by a smoker, they are interested in what you are doing! It’s just easier for them to start a conversation this way in front of their smoking mates.
I know I felt self-conscious about vaping at first. It does feel weird puffing on an electronic device and blowing out a sweet-smelling cloud in public and all you big cloud vapers out there turn heads everywhere you go and probably cop it more.
Many of you probably didn’t even give a toss what sort of crap came your way. I envy you!! Many of us when new, are grappling with the vape learning curve, anxiety about the cravings and dealing with something new in the early days of vaping.
For me, now, every smoker is someone who really wants to vape….eventually. I’ve had more pleasure dealing with smokers looking at them this way than trying to be like a TV Evangelist preaching the benefits of vaping. (I do this in a blog instead. HA!).
Smokers hate preaching! I know I hated it big time when I was a smoker and didn’t care. So there’s no point in preaching. I know you’re excited about vaping working for you and you want to shake the sense into every smoker but there’s a better and much more fun way to do it.
There’s no need to rattle off a set list of fact and figures every time someone gives you a hard time about vaping but it’s a good idea to have a bit on an idea yourself and for that information the best sources are the Royal College of Physicians (www.rcplondon.ac.uk) who have convinced the government in the UK to actively promote vaping. In Australia, we have the New Nicotine Alliance (nnalliance.org.au) but the Legalise Vaping Australia have a collection of info too (www.legalisevaping.com.au) from both these sources.
It’s good info to have under your belt but I’ve not needed to use it much really as I deal with teasing smokers in a different way.
When travelling I really enjoy getting to know more about the culture of the country I’m visiting. In Bali back in 1996 I learnt that haggling over a price when buying something in a market stall is a cultural thing and you’ve got to do it out of some respect. We’re so not used to haggling here in Oz and we’re pretty horrible at it. We get all huffy and stressed. I did at first and I felt stupid haggling over 50c or a $1 for a Bintang T-Shirt. I also learnt the price wasn’t the point of haggling for the Balinese…it’s more a dance. A Ritual. So I loosened up and it was all about the animated wordplay and bluffing all done with an element of comedy. It was fun. The holiday shifted from sightseeing to engaging the locals and I still think it was one of the best holidays I’ve been on. Even managed to score what amounted to a 50% discount on accommodation at a resort using my birthday as a haggling point. They respected a good haggle and I reckon people deep down love haggling too.
So, armed with some decent facts about vaping and a sly grin as armour against big mouthed smokers you should be feeling pretty confident.
Remember the haggle, be cheeky, have fun and be prepared to walk away. Avoid putting them down or making them feel bad. We can turn any sledge into a thought-provoking, memorable poke and we’ve just planted a seed into fertile brain matter… we can walk away and it should fester and grow into an enquiring vaper. Smokers know smoking is bad. We just need to demonstrate that smoking is less harmful.
Getting defensive or annoyed is just going to vindicate their preconceived ideas on vaping and vapers. The aim here is to engage and break down barriers.
Here are some possible comebacks to some of the most common sledges you’ll come across. Probably best to find your own inner cheekiness and find your level of comfort. Being an older fart means I can probably get away with a little more or I don’t get hassled as much.
Here are some I have come across:
S: What’s it like sucking on Robot dick?
M: I know! I’m such a slut and it’s amazing what I’ll do to save $500 a month! What’s it like sucking on that thing?
S: Those things will kill you faster than Ciggies
M: Really? How come I stopped coughing in the mornings
M: hey..hold on. Tell me more! (facts and figures come in handy here)
S: You’re still addicted to Nicotine
M: (laugh) Yeah, I am….but I’m no longer addicted to lung cancer.
What usually happens after this is mostly nothing but at least the smoker may have walked away thinking vapers aren’t that up themselves and self-righteous. What can also happen is they tend to come back with a series of questions after a little more ribbing. Is it easy to use? How much does it cost? & Where can I get one from? Take it from there. You know what to do now. It’s sometimes literally that fast a reveal of the real intent behind the teasing.
With my smoking buddies at work, we’re about 50/50 vapers now and I inspired them by being cheeky with their sledges, answering their questions honestly and I knew after the first one there would be some domino effect.
Oh, I haven’t forgotten the stuff you cop from non-smokers. These have to be dealt with a bit more matter of factually. Tell them your story and how vaping has helped you feel and come to a common ground about being better off. Ask them to smell you if you have to and agree about the things you both hate about smoking. You’ve got no agenda here but staying calm and being honest will win you a supporter. Outside a pub vaping amongst the smokers, a couple walked past. The woman called out to me…”I don’t smoke but GO VAPER!!!” Non-smokers hate walking past a bunch of smokers. I wonder why? Hah!
That’s all for now. Have fun with vaping, drink plenty of water and a runny nose and a thick moustache don’t go well together.