Competitive Vaping Is A Real Sport, And The Dallas Suburbs Are Its Fertile Training Grounds.
The first time I remember hearing about somebody vaping in public was back in 2009. Only, from what I recall, it wasn't called vaping back then. It was just a new, somewhat douchey frontier — a new-fangled hobby that didn't seem to be able to offend anyone, no matter how hard it tried. Case in point: This Zac Crain-penned piece in D Magazine, written around that time in which he intentionally blew his vape smoke in the faces of children, cops and other Whole Foods shoppers without raising a single eyebrow.
Simply put, nobody gave a fuck.
That was, best we can tell, completely by design. Electronic cigarettes and other similar devices originally cropped up as a healthier, almost completely inoffensive alternative to smoking actual cigarettes. And, for a while, that's precisely the purposed they served: They were a cheap and effective device to use as the first step in the quitting process.
Fast forward to 2015, though, and I recently found myself enjoying a tallboy at Cold Beer Company when a fellow at the next table whipped out a rectangular device roughly the size of a Gameboy, took a big puff and blew a cloud of smoke our direction that was so thick I couldn't see the faces of the other people at my table. It smelled strongly of cotton candy and lingered for several minutes before dissipating.
Folks like this tool are precisely why so many bars, music venues and other public spaces are now banning the once-harmless device, too.
And yet, this behavior is only being seen as deplorable at one end of the spectrum. At the other end, such audacious smoke billows are seen as enviable. Blow a big enough cloud of vapor — fuck that, let's just call it smoke — and one might even find themselves rewarded with a nice little wad of cash.
These places would be vaping competitions, which we now know is an actual thing that really happens, because The Wall Street Journal published an expose on so-called competitive vapers just yesterday.
Specifically, that WSJ piece centered around a recent competition at the Plano-based vape shop Metro Vapors. And though the competition in question was described as being among the smallest of these types of contests, the author of the piece made sure to point out, was just one of four in the area that was going down on that same day. In other words: The Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs, best as we can tell, appear to be Ground Zero for these things.
douchebags cloud chasers, are said to mod their devices of choice to produce the biggest and longest billows of flavor clouds possible. The best around are even sponsored by vape juice companies so that they might travel around and compete in competitions all over.
That's right, folks: We're approaching a world where “professional vaper” is an actual career that folks make a respectable living at. Or, well, maybe just a living, period.
“There is a skill to being able to keep a ball of vapor together without it dissipating,” said one contest judge quoted in the WSJ piece.
An even more difficult skill, it seems, would be entering a vape contest without looking like a total assclown.