E-Cigs: Not Worth Losing Business Over

A friend recently had an interesting encounter with a place of business and his electronic cigarette. Roy is business owner who employs a half dozen people and makes frequent large purchases for his business. He’s a regular customer…or at least he used to be.

After spending almost $1500, he started up his e-cig while waiting for his purchase to be loaded onto his truck. He was immediately told that he could not smoke his electronic cigarette there.

My friend’s response: (a bit of cussing if I know Roy) he grumbled about not respecting regular customers and promptly posted his negative experience on Facebook, acknowledging that he will never ever do business there again.

I’ve known this businessman for 20 years; when he has a bad encounter somewhere he spent (spends) money, he never does business there again and tells all his friends not to do so, too.

We are talking about a mobile home construction supplies type of store —not some ritzy store or closed-in place like a restaurant— not that it should matter since e-cigs don’t produce harmful smoke.

E-Cigs exist in some kind of legal limbo. In the absence of context, businesses that admonish electronic cigarettes’ use risk losing business from customers who can’t understand anyone objecting to no flame, no smoke with its cancerous particles, no ash, no disgusting smell, etc.

Lacking any laws, I am baffled by any business that elects to prevent its customers from choosing to indulge in electronic cigarettes. What’s the big deal?

An electronic cigarette is not going to start a fire; it has no flame. The mist that is exhaled is odorless, so it doesn’t stink up a room or clothes. What is there possibly to object to?

If a company’s stance is “we don’t want to confuse other customers who might think you are smoking a real cigarette,” that’s a copout. The masses will soon enough be educated: the only thing tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes have in common is inhaled nicotine.

How exactly can electronic cigarettes be “bothersome” to others —even non-smokers? If a non-smoker is sitting in front of someone who is vaping, the non-smoker would never know that an electronic cigarette is being “smoked”.

Without the smell of ash and the effects of permeating smoke, there just isn’t any rational reason for businesses to object to them.

Places of business currently scramble to provide an outdoor hub for smokers. They spend thousands of dollars trying to address this issue for their smoking clientele. I would think businesses, in particular those who deal in repeat customers, would welcome e-cigs with open arms.  

Instead of smoking clientele being sent outdoors to enjoy a smoke, businesses should be embracing the use of e-cigs to keep the customer inside the store.  Isn’t the goal of a business actually getting people in the store? Once a customer is in the store, why would you send him outside for ANYTHING?
It’s not like electronic cigarettes are going to go away. That’s not happening: the Big Tobacco companies have all introduced versions of their own and are spending increasing amounts of money on advertising.

One thing not lacking is the advertising of electronic cigarettes. Ads for e-cigs can be found where regular cigarettes haven’t been in ages because they are not a tobacco product, and are not bound by the same regulations.

While we all await the official verdict of regulations, businesses should be taking the lead in ensuring the rights of their customers who vape. Maybe now that the top three tobacco companies have heavily invested money into e-cigs’ marketing and advertising, acceptance is inevitable.

For years, as a culture we have condemned tobacco use due to known health hazards, including those related to second-hand smoke. We have studied nicotine and everybody agrees it causes cancer.

But electronic cigarette users don’t exhale anything but vapor. The idea that electronic cigarettes are a better alternative for nicotine delivery than tobacco is a complete no-brainer!

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