The only way we'll get "the masses" to understand just how different e-cigarettes are from traditional cigarettes is for them to experience them up close and personal. Otherwise, all they have are pictures, which can't possibly convey how the vapor is non-irritating and basically odorless in an open setting where smoke may still bother them (ie., bar, restaurant, mall, park, pool, office.)
Our biggest weapon against the ANTZ is an educated and experienced public. If they don't see and experience them being used around them first-hand, all they have to base their opinion on is images of people doing something that sure looks like smoking and hearing the ANTZ telling them how bad e-cigs are. How e-cigs smell (or rather, don't smell) is their greatest asset. People don't really care about our health, they care about not being annoyed (even if they claim they are also worried about their health.)
So we must convince people, without a doubt, that the smell won't bother them. Then when some ANTZ says on the news or to a legislator, "E-cigarettes are the same as smoking and should be banned where smoking is banned" it's not just us knowing that it's a complete lie. The only way to do this is to get out in public and show them.
However, CASAA recommends that vapers still respect the rules set by private businesses. While it can't hurt to try or ask, the general rule of thumb is "their house, their rules." You wouldn't ignore or be rude to a friend who asks you not to vape in their car or home, so we should respect the property rights of bars, restaurants, stores, hospitals, etc. That doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to educate them and maybe even make the extra effort to get the rules changed, through polite discussion with those who actually have the power to change the rules. (Meaning, don't be a jerk to the poor nurse or server who doesn't make the rules.) Also, a few municipalities and states have banned the use of e-cigarettes where smoking is prohibited, so know the law in your area.
Don't be afraid to use your e-cigarette where people can see you, ask questions and learn about them first-hand. If you don't, pretty soon there may no longer even be an option.
This blog is Kristin's personal views and opinions and does not represent the views or policies of CASAA.