Huge, thick clouds of white vapor, the bigger the better. This is “cloud chasing,” and typical e-cigarette users worry that it will hasten the regulation of e-cigs. E-cigarette users, referred to by many as “vapers,” worry that these newcomers will ruin the e-cigarette world for everyone by blowing huge vapor clouds in public.
Designed to produce as much fog as possible, cloud chasers use extremely high-end e-cigarettes to produce the giant clouds. They use modifications of the typical e-cigarette mechanism that uses battery power to vaporize a nicotine elixir. Users inhale and then exhale a vapor cloud.
However the increasingly popular souped-up e-cigs used by cloud chasers usually do not even include nicotine. Cloud chasers say they are not doing it for the nicotine – it’s all about the cloud.
Kris Poma is the manager of Vanity Vapor in Glendale, a vapor cigarette shop. She says cloud chasing is a sport, with a goal of making the biggest cloud. Sometimes there are even cloud blowing contests.
Poma’s store holds classes on how to create the gadgetry inside an e-cigarette that makes the big, luminous puffs. Some other shops offer the materials and work tables where cloud chasers can work on their equipment.
According to the National Vapers Club, cloud chasing is blowing giant clouds on a mechanical mod after toiling over sub ohm oils, repetitiously working with wire and cotton until they get the math just right.
Discussions on message boards about how to build cloud chasers and maximize cloud size also emphasize safety, and the risk of having a mod blow up and spray battery acid everywhere.
Cloud chasing has added yet another complication in a world already trying to figure out what to do with e-cigarettes. While e-cigs are not federally regulated the way tobacco products are, some cities and states have started to include them in smoking bans. The country of Wales may be banning them in enclosed public spaces over worries that their use could undercut the country’s ban on tobacco smoking in public.
Some restaurants and bars have gone ahead and forbidden the use of e-cigarettes in their establishments. Others allow e-cigs but not cloud chasing.
But the debate over whether or not e-cigarettes are smoking is becoming more clouded as traditional tobacco companies beginning to invest in the technology. Skeptics express concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway into smoking, but there is also increasing evidence that they are effective in helping some smokers quit.
Many e-cig users are very circumspect with their vaping, and do their best not to draw attention to themselves. Some cloud chasers flaunt it, showing off their cloud-making ability where anyone and everyone can see.
Diehard cloud chasers express doubt that their hobby makes vapers look bad. However at a recent Vapefest DC convention, one of a number of vaping activism events, one attendee said that demonstrating cloud chasing skills in public does more harm than good. Also the executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association Cynthia Cabrera cautioned vapers, including cloud chasers, against being their own worst enemy.
By Beth A. Balen