vapeBy Dr. Raoul Hunter, Staff Writer

Recently, I was having a Camel non-filter outside a local mall, when I happened to notice a few 20 somethings gathered in a semi-circle nearby. Each member of the tiny group were taking “tokes” from a blinged out device that vaguely resembled a magic wand.

In my 20’s, there would have been only one “device” and it would be passed around the circle. Then we would all hit Taco Bell.

“You’ve come a long way baby!” (Virginia Slims slogan from the 70’s)

Some call them “eCigarettes”, others call them “smokeless cigarettes”, while still others call them “vapes.” Whatever you call them, they are everywhere.

Technically, they are called an electronic nicotine delivery system, although you can puff on them sans the nicotine. If watermelon, blueberry or pina colada are your favorite flavors, you may have those choices electronically driven into your lungs as well. The “vapor” produced by these electronic cigarettes is commonly called eJuice or eLiquid. Either way, it is a solution of some sort that most of the time consists of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and/or polyethylene glycol 400 mixed with concentrated flavors; all of which I am certain must be safe to inhale into your lungs.

Oh, you can option for various strengths of nicotine as well.

Did I mention that one of the ladies in the group had her “device” extending from what at first appeared to be a cell phone. Curious, I approached and asked her about it. She informed me that it was a battery pack which will allow her wand to be charged for three full days.

That’s a lot of vaping!

Plus, she tells me, it has a place where you can charge your cell! Excited that I had been half right about the cell phone part, I ventured further. “Would anyone mind if I gave one of your devices a try?” The looks I received were not unlike the response I might expect if I had offered to baby sit their children while they enjoyed a night out on the town giving the finger to the “smokeless environments” they might decide to patronize.

As I continued to observe the group, now from a safer distance, I noticed that not only did they take frequent hits off of the device, they used them to gesture and add emphasis to a point they might be trying to make in their conversation.

I also watched as they shared their vapes with others in the semi-circle.

I suddenly felt discriminated against.

As I looked longingly at my pack of Camels. I secretly began to wonder what a camel may actually taste like. Perhaps they taste like a non-filtered Camel. If that is the case, then what of Marlboro? What exactly is a Marlboro, and does it taste like a…a…well a Marlboro?

The truth is, many of the people who are brandishing these eCigarettes have either quit smoking “real” cigarettes, or cut down their nicotine intake significantly. I guess that is a good thing. I just can’t help but allow my mind to drift back to the day when Tylenol was touted as the new wonder drug, only to learn years later that it wastes your liver.

Which leads me to remember a movie that came out years ago called either “Orange Sunshine” or “Purple Sunshine.” It was about a group of people who had taken a type of LSD several years earlier, and suddenly “lose it” and venture out on a murderous rampage. Too be fair, I took my fair share of acid back in the day, and so far, I haven’t hacked anyone to death. I must have missed out on the “______ Sunshine.” At least it seems so, anyway.

Am I suggesting that years from now the “vapers” will transform into “vampires?” Not directly. But it is still difficult for me to imagine that inhaling a liquid, that is basically sugar, into your lungs will not cause “something” later.

It simply wouldn’t be American.

Nash Williams contributed to this story.