Some say vaping is a safer way to smoke. Others say it’s equally toxic, just in a different way. But is vaping allowed in a restaurant? Short answer: if you can smoke, then you can vape. If the restaurant has a smoking zone, you’re allowed to vape in that part of the premises. But if it’s a no-smoking space, then vapes are banned as well. But let’s take a closer look at things.
Is Vaping Allowed in a Restaurant?
The Social Side of Smoking
Smoking is a popular social activity. It encourages small talk because you can bum cigarettes and have a quick chat, so it’s an effective icebreaker. This is even truer now that people can’t freely smoke in public. In the past, you could light up anywhere. Today, you need designated corners that are well-ventilated. They’re convenient places to meet people and make friends.
Lots of us ended up getting acquainted with partners, neighbors, and colleagues during a smoke break. It’s quite the social lubricant. And most of us agree that it looks cool. But it’s not a harmless habit and everyone knows it’s addictive. Its side effects range from wrinkled skin and cancer to bad breath and chapped lips. Plus, that smoker’s smell can be permanent!
Enter vaping. It provides the same psychological satisfaction as smoking a cigarette or cigar. And with the snazzy faux tobacco designs available, it can look just as sexy. But vaping claims to dispel most of the disadvantages of smoking. It doesn’t smell bad, has fewer carcinogens, and appeals to a wider audience. All that said, is vaping allowed in a restaurant? It depends.
How Vaping Helps Smokers
First, it’s important to spot the similarities between vaping and smoking. They both involve nicotine, an addictive but calming substance with a kick aka ‘head-rush’. That’s why it’s both a depressant and a stimulant. Two, they can both trigger a smoke alarm or fire alarm, which makes them tricky to use indoors. Three, they’re both restricted for minors and school areas.
So it makes sense that vaping is allowed in restaurant smoking zones. Similarly, if the eatery has a no-smoking policy, then you can’t vape there either. And if you’re trying to sneak vapes into a no-smoking zone, remember that they now have vape detectors. Modern smoke alarms and air monitors have built-in sensors that can identify the fumes and chemicals from vapes.
To understand this, it helps to know the biggest difference between smoking and vaping. The word smoking implies the presence of smoke, a dense suspension of particles like carbon and other visible airborne materials. In contrast, aerosols are invisible suspensions of liquids or solids. You can see smoke, but you generally can’t see vapor unless it’s colored or tainted.
Using Vapes to Give Up Smoking
That said, many vapers were previously smokers. So they want to see the fumes coming out of their vape pens and e-cigarettes. To facilitate this, manufacturers use additives and coil technology to thicken the ‘smoke’ coming from vapes. In the process, it’s easier for smoke alarms and security personnel to catch you vaping in areas where you shouldn’t be. Oops!
But why are smoking and vaping prohibited in public areas? The main reason is second-hand (and third-hand) smoke. Nicotine has long been outed as a key cause of cancer. Smokers take responsibility for their consensual choice to ingest potentially toxic substances. But when they smoke, they breathe out fumes that still contain toxins. They also release some from the tips.
A smoker has a filter that partially blocks what they inhale. But the other end of their ‘cancer stick’ still emits materials that affect anyone around them, potentially making them sick. It’s called second-hand smoke. These chemicals also soak into walls, surfaces, and fabrics, aka third-hand smoke. These effluents were proven toxic, so smoking bans were implemented.
Advantages of Vaping in Restaurants
This explains why many public places like restaurants prohibit smoking. But what about vapes? Aren’t they safer? Yes and no. Vapes come in various styles. Some have nicotine and can deliver the same high as tobacco products. But these vapes don’t burn raw tobacco. In theory, that means they have fewer toxins like tar. Also, they use gentler synthetic nicotine.
Another advantage is that vapor dissipates much faster than smoke. The fumes from a vape exit the room in minutes while the smoke from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe can linger for hours. And if you still want the cool factor of tobacco, you can buy a vape pen or vape mod designed to mimic a cigarette, cigar, pipe, or hookah. That way, you get the best of both. It’s a win-win!
However, the point of smoking bans isn’t whether or not you’ll get caught. It’s how your vape or cigarette affects other people. And as we’ve seen, both products contain nicotine, so both products produce second and third-hand symptoms in those around you. That means other restaurant patrons and owners can reasonably request you not to smoke or vape as they eat.
Facts Over Fumes – Is Vaping Harmful?
What about nicotine-free vapes? These are fashionable exceptions that give users the joys of smoking without the side effects. You can look and feel cool while dodging carcinogens. They often have flavors and thickeners to heighten the puff clouds they produce when you exhale. This does mean they can still annoy anti-vapers, but they won’t spread nicotine or ailments.
This may come down to perception. Restaurant guests that choose a no-smoking zone will still be upset by the sight and scent of fumes, so you can still get in trouble for it. And even if your vape doesn’t smell like tobacco, it may still trigger the sensitive alarms in a no-smoking zone. Especially since restaurant management is incentivized to install vape detection kits.
It also just comes down to consent. You have a right to smoke or vape if you want to, but you can’t impose it on others who specifically chose a place where they know it’s not allowed. It’s better for everyone if you hang out in a vape-friendly space where you can socialize with like-minded people. Plus, you’re less likely to get arrested or sued. That’s the ideal for everyone.
The Smoking Guns of Vaping
If you push aside the judgment and assumptions, what’s wrong with vaping in restaurants? The downside of smoking has been obvious for decades, but is vaping really so bad? In truth, we don’t fully know. Vapes are a relatively new technology. They were only invented in 2003. People have been ingesting tobacco since 6,000 BC and smoking old cigars since the Mayans.
As for cigarettes, they allegedly popped up in 16th Century Spain when the beggars of Seville recycled cigar butts dropped by wealthy citizens. So we’ve had a lot of time to study the bad sides of tobacco. Vapes, on the other hand, use synthetic nicotine infused with plastic and other chemicals that may eventually prove just as toxic. In truth, we don’t have enough data.
In a few years, decades, or centuries, we may confirm our assumption that vapes are safer than cigarettes. Or we may discover those artificial substitutes that replace tar and toxins have worse side effects. The main fear surrounding vapes is that the industry is unregulated. That means off-brand vapes sometimes have Vitamin E and other additives to thicken fumes.
Getting Caught with a Vape in a Restaurant
Some of these products have introduced liquid into the lungs of vapers, causing lethal illness. What we know for sure is that non-smokers and non-vapers find vapes as unpleasant and uncomfortable as cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. So if you’re in a restaurant, apartment block, or neighborhood that won’t let you smoke, then you can’t legally vape in that vicinity either.
You may think it’s okay to sneak your vape into a vape-free restaurant. After all, some are quite discreet. They can be smaller than cigarettes and may simulate everyday objects like pens, flashlights, USB sticks, or key chains. Also, vape fumes can dissipate in 30 seconds to 2 minutes so if you time it right, you can probably get away with it. But here’s a little warning…
A lot of times, especially in America, the problem isn’t getting caught. It’s being sued. We’re a highly litigious nation, so even when you’re in the right, and even if you win a case, legal fees and publicity can still ruin you. Especially in the age of social media. So restauranteurs and individual citizens go the extra mile to protect themselves from prosecution. That’s the trick.
Vape Detectives and Other Stories
Eateries, therefore, spend more on vape detection technology, whether it’s a laser-powered air sensor or a remote camera system. And lawsuit lovers will whip out their smartphone at the slightest hint of scented air. Breaking a smoke ban or vape ban causes mild embarrassment if you get thrown out of the restaurant. It can destroy your career or reputation if it gets online.
And if someone decides to take legal action, it could wipe you out completely. It’s not a fair trade for a few puffs on a vape. So before you go to any restaurant, look up their policies on smoking and vaping. If you can smoke there, you can likely vape there. If it’s a no-smoking zone, leave your vapes at home. You don’t want to have to prove you didn’t actively inhale.
You might still think you have a shot if the ban specifically mentions cigarettes. In some places, smoking bans are legally assumed to include vapes. Other places have specifically modified the language in their laws to mention smoking and vaping. But remember, even if you can successfully argue against a loophole, you still have to pay your attorney, so let it go!
Legally Vaping in Restaurants
Is vaping allowed in restaurants? Some places have state-wide bans on vapes in eateries e.g.
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- New York
Many states ban online vape sales. Others assume smoking bans cover vapes. Double check!