And no, I'm not joking. Vaping has become a sport. It's not new thing either, having risen to prominence in the West Coast of the U.S with the inception of e-cigarettes in 2007 and is now widespread throughout America. Since some of the world's top sportsmen and women are showcasing themselves in Rio right now, I thought I'd delve into this bizarre world and look at some of the 'athletes' this particular 'sport' has to offer.
So what is competitive vaping? Vaping veterans call it 'Cloud Chasing' and, in layman's terms, it's the art of blowing as much smoke as possible, sometimes in shapes, for judgement and scoring. The more technical definition, according to Vape News Magazine, is "the art of using sub ohm coiled atomizers on mechanical mods. The coils can be single, dual or multi configurations."
I have no idea what that means but cloud chasers insist that it has a real place as a sport. Now I'm going to use the term 'sport' loosely because, by definition, a sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. I don't doubt the entertainment part, but I'm yet to see the real physical exertion.
Cloud chasing seems to have really blown up around 2014, when sites like Mashable, Gizmodo, The Guardian, and even our very own Huffington Post featured the sport that pats a bro on the back for smoking a 'plume' as long as his own trendy beard. Although featured as a new phenomenon, many mention the dangers of such an activity and talk about the growing scepticism the vaping community have on cloud chasing, and the negative impact it could have on the image of vaping.
It seems as though cloud competitions are very different from the smoking of e cigarettes. Cloud chasers use customised vaping mods that burn vegetable glycerol and liquid nicotine and are often sponsored by specific vape brands. It's very different from those genuinely vaping to kick a smoking habit and can leave a bad impression on those that aren't educated on the subject.
I am one of those unimpressed by the whole thing. There's an e cig shop where I live in Leeds that is a mere two shops down from where my boyfriend works. When I visit the shop on a weekend, I often see a huge cloud of smoke envelope the arcade in which the shops are located and, I must admit, it leaves me angry. Regardless of the fact that this isn't specifically smoke as we know it, it's just obnoxious. It gives a hugely bad name to those that aren't practising for a championship in vaping, those that actually want to cut down their nicotine intake by using a product that helps them do so.
There are many vapers that publicly denounce the sport, saying that those who try to replicate the large amount of smoke indoors will ultimately end up pushing those that are already unsure about vaping to back restrictions of usage. It could lead to vaping being banned indoors, with those against the huge clouds saying it's more intrusive on their lungs than second hand smoke.
This basically means that it's all fun and vaping until they ban it for those of whom it's beneficial. I'm personally not convinced of the benefits of vaping, but my Mum has been trialling it as a way to quit smoking for the past 6 months and hasn't touched a cigarette since. That's got to be pretty good. I've had a quick look online at this review of the best e cig around and it's probably pretty useful if you're thinking of stopping your nicotine habit.