John Castle, author of “Smokeless: An Introductory Guide To The Pleasure Of Vaping” has joined the staff of Spinfuel eMagazine. John will be writing both product reviews and commentaries. John brings with him an expert level of knowledge and knowhow of the e-Cigarette industry and will be a valuable member of the team. Publisher John Manzione talked with John Castle about what he brings to the table. Below are highlights of that talk.
As always, we welcome your comments below.
John M: John, it’s great to have you on our staff. As the author of Smokeless: An Introductory Guide to The Pleasure of Vaping, you bring with you an almost unlimited amount of vaping knowledge. How did you learn so much in so little time? The industry is fairly new, after all.
John C: Frankly, as someone who is also a novelist and a screenwriter, I’m obsessive about research. And when it came to a subject that could impact my health, personally, for the better — and, by extension, my friends’ health — my obsession for research was triggered harder than it ever had been before.
John M: The entire staff really enjoys your writing style Tell us about your writing background?
John C:My writing background lays primarily right in the middle of my reading background. With my original focus on scriptwriting for feature film, I learned the value of economy of words and turning passive verbs into active verbs; the spirit of that, of making everything hit now, now, now — translated to a love of packing as much information into the tightest space possible.
John M: When did you first start vaping? Were you a heavy smoker before then?
John C: I first started vaping full-time somewhere between July and September of 2012. It really is hard to mark an exact date, because it wasn’t an all-at-once switch. I started with a fairly ineffective piece of hardware, but made as rapid a transition as I could to a more effective solution. The timetable on that, though, is lost to memory. What I can tell you, absolutely for certain, is that no matter what happens, I’m never going back. Ever.
John M: How long have you been reading Spinfuel eMagazine? When did you decide that you’d like to work with us?
John C: I didn’t actually discover Spinfuel until I was well on my way along the learning curve that I think every new vaper goes through. I was already on to my first variable voltage device (an Innokin iTaste VV version 2) when I found Spinfuel.
As for the second part of that question, when did I know I wanted to write for Spinfuel. From the first moment I saw that splash screen. I said to myself, at that very moment, “Damn, these guys are class.“
John M: What can our readers expect from you with respect to commentaries and editorials?
John C: Y’know, that’s a question that really leads to a complex answer. But here’s that answer, in full: I’m not going to bullshit anybody. I’m an old fashioned fella, and I bring that to my writing. My language won’t always be as spicy as what you saw just now, but when it needs to be — when it must be — it will be. I’m not going to pull any punches, is I guess what I’m getting at. When the mainstream media tries to get slick to our detriment, I’m gonna slap ‘em. When they do good, I’ll note that, too. When a manufacturer puts out a piece of hardware, or a vendor puts out an eliquid, that I don’t think is worth your time, well… by this point, I think you can guess what my reaction will be. I’ll try to keep it civil, but you won’t have to guess when I think somebody’s trying to do us wrong — or, on the other hand, when somebody’s doing it right.
John M: You will also write reviews. What type of products are you looking forward to reviewing most? Hardware, eLiquids, mods, RBA’s?
John C:I love it all, I really do. Vaping is more than just an escape from the dangers of traditional smoking — it is that, and that may be what’s most important, but it’s more than that — it’s a million flavors, a billion roads to satisfaction of the taste buds and of the body and of the mind; I want to explore them all. I want to be the guy right there with each and every one of our readers, beaming a great big smile when the vistas are beautiful and lending a warning when there are storm clouds on the horizon. I want to taste and feel and know all that I can, and pass that knowledge on.
John M: Why do you think there are so many anti-vaping zealots out there? Is it a lack of understanding or something worse?
John C:If I had to drop numbers, I’d say that 60% of the anti-vaping crusaders are simply misinformed; I’d say that close to 40% are deliberately misinforming everybody they can. Why? Well, I spell this out in my book, but let me echo what I said there as concisely as I’m able:
- Government takes a pretty penny from smoking in sumptuary taxes, a.k.a. sin taxes. If people actually quit smoking, their revenue dries up. So that’s their dog in this race.
- Big Tobacco simply can’t compete on this playing field. Even their best effort, the Vuse products, are as sissy as Tom Sawyer’s cousin Sid compared to just the humble eGo. Vaping is an industry they just can’t dominate, and I’m guessing that scares them to death. There’s their dog.
- Pharmaceutical companies have peddled worthless snake-oil to smokers looking to quit, for years. Guess what happens when something hits the scene that actually does enable smokers to quit? Just like government, they’re out a revenue stream. Let me make this rather obvious fact really, really clear by actually saying it, when no one else seems to want to: Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of treating diseases and addictions; they are not in the business of curing them. You cure a problem and your customers dry up; you merely alleviate the problem and the problem can recur, then you treat it again and make more money.
John M: Do you think the FDA will come down hard on all areas of the industry?
John C:Are they a government agency? Does government siphon gallons and gallons of blood money from addicted smokers? Yes, and yes. So my answer is: Not if they’re smart. Not if they want to keep control over anything else. Because eventually, some issue is going to push things too far, and people are going to snap, en masse. Eventually, there’s going to be a straw that breaks the camel’s back. And vaping just might be it.
John M: As you know, Spinfuel eMagazine publishes ‘Scam Alerts’ about certain brands that trick people into paying a fortune for some cheap Chinese starter kit. Have you known anyone that has been ripped off in this way? Do you think companies like this should be done away with through regulation or through the education of potential Vapers?
John C:I know one guy who got one of these things; however, I can’t say that I’ve known for anyone who has actually fallen for it. That one guy used a prepaid debit card, and he actually ripped them off. I would say, “Good for him“ except that what he got from them wasn’t worth the ingenuity of ripping them off to get it.
Anyway, on to the second part of the question: Do I think regulation is the answer? Let me be expansive: Do I think regulation is the answer to anything? No. Absolutely not. I think that we, as a news source on this subject, need to be responsible for educating consumers. Regulation leads to two things: More bureaucracy, and oligopolies capable of shilling substandard junk in spite of the added bureaucracy. Neither of those things does consumers any good.
Education is the answer. Community is the answer. Individuals working in common cause with the understanding that what harms thee can harm me, and what benefits thee can benefit me. The answer isn’t more regulation, it’s more common decency between honest folk.
John M: There are still 48 million Americans who light up everyday. Do you think the government should have any say in what smokers do? Should there be even more regulations on tobacco use, more taxes?
John C: No. Not even a little. I believe that the answer to smoking is not to penalize smokers — it’s to offer them something better than smoking. And that’s what vaping is. Vaping is not “the next best thing“ — it is the best thing. Just as the automobile came along and antiquated the horse-drawn buggy, vaping is going to make the use of combustion-based analog cigarettes into a relic of a practice. There’s no need to shame smokers into switching. There’s no need to tax them into it (unless those doing the taxing are only really after money and not health). There’s no need to socially condition them into it (unless those doing the social conditioning only want control over the lives of other adults, rather than to ensure their health.) Vaping is just better. Tastes better, smells better, satisfies better, is easier on the wallet. A thing that’s genuinely better is never a hard sell.
John M: Should e-cigarettes be taxed like tobacco?
John C:No. Because they’re not tobacco. Should the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue be sold like an issue of Playboy? ‘Course not — because it isn’t an issue of Playboy. You treat something like what it is, not like what it resembles. Most people figure this out by first grade, so I’m confused and more than a little alarmed that so many government officials and health “experts“ don’t seem to pick up this really rudimentary cognitive skill.
John M: How can we get across to those that make the laws that vaping is not smoking?
John C: You know, with some of them, I’m sad to say, you just can’t. Why can’t we? Because it’s not that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t care. There are so many people in various branches and levels of government who are so absolutely committed to the notion that they’re somehow “better“ than the “common folk“ that they just don’t care whether reason or facts are on their side or not. And there is no reasoning with people who have adopted that mindset.
Fortunately, they are a minority even among lawmakers, no matter how powerful they are. What we can do is appeal not to the lawmakers but to the American people. No tiny cloister of bureaucrats, no matter how powerful, can stand against an entire nation of those who refuse to be collared and chained. They are few; we can be many. And they simply cannot beat that.
John M: Do you think every smoker could come off tobacco with e-cigarettes? Is it a matter of finding the right device, the right level of nicotine, or are some people hopelessly hooked on tobacco for the rest of their lives?
John C: I think it’s a matter of personal choice. And, furthermore, I think that’s the way it ought to be. If I was to encounter a smoker who said, “You know, I’ve tried those things — and they tasted wonderful; they hardly smelled at all, and for the few seconds I smelled them, they smelled delicious — and I felt better than I had in years… but you know what? I just don’t want to switch.“
I would say to that person. “Okay. Carry on.“ and I’d then walk away. You can only reach out — you can’t push, because if you push, you only trigger resistance. And who knows what that person will decide a year, five, ten, down the line, when they don’t feel that they’re being pressured into it?
Overall, though, I think that vaping, as an alternative to smoking, really does sell itself. Even if the first combination of hardware and eliquid isn’t the be-all, end-all, the potential to escape from tobacco will speak loud and clear to the smoker who is ready to switch. It did with me.
John M: Getting back to your writing again, your response to the truly ignorant piece in Martketwatch the other day was full of passion, anger even. Why did you choose to respond that way? (John’s piece URL here)
John C: Let me preface this answer just a little; I’m a Stoic. Not in the pop culture “feels no emotion“ cartoon understanding, but the actual, classical Hellenistic philosophy practiced by gents like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. The phrase, “I have mastered my passions; they do not master me.“ is appropriate here.
With that said, mastering one’s emotions doesn’t mean abandoning one’s emotions. It means focusing them. Harnessing and applying them.
And, simply stated, it makes me angry that an industry that can save innocent lives is being so often, so shamelessly and so stupidly lied about. I want people to escape the certainty of crippling illness that traditional cigarettes carry with them, when they could so easily transition that same habit to something that won’t kill them.
And this deception on the part of the mainstream media so saturates all of their reporting about vaping that, frankly, it exposes a cavalier attitude toward the lives of smokers. That should make people angry. People absolutely, unquestionably to my mind, should be pissed that these erstwhile “journalists“ would rather see innocent people die than tell the truth about something that could save them.
I think people needed to see that anger. I think people need a champion in this fight.
John M: How can Vapers begin to fight back against articles like the one in Martketwatch?
John C: By speaking up and speaking out. First, know the facts. Second, speak the facts. Finally, if you’re angry, be angry. Lying about people isn’t polite, so why are we so focused on being polite? This is literally a life and death struggle.
At the same time, we need to have facts on our side. And we do. But have them ready and waiting. Take the gloves off, but coat your knuckles in the truth, and then, by God, lay the liars out.
John M: Do you see a time when Vapers will have to take to the streets in order to get their message heard? Can publications like Spinfuel eMagazine channel their message to the powers that be? How best can we do that?
John C: I think our focus needs to be directed at the people. The powers that be, if they’re going to listen at all, they’re listening already. But what we need is to turn up the volume, and that means more people speaking the truth. Our job is to hunt that truth and deliver it to them, and then stand beside them.
What we have is a righteous cause here; we’re about having fun, delivering quality information, and providing refined, informative entertainment — but when the lounge is a bunker and the steaks are field rations, we are first and foremost about saving lives by providing information that allows people to escape tobacco and come to something better.
John M: Lastly, what do you most want to accomplish as a staffer on Spinfuel eMagazine?
John C: I have a triple-threat of a wish here. To educate, to inspire and to entertain.
John C: To address those final questions in order:
One other thing the readers should know — and I think many may have picked up on this by now — is that I’m a Libertarian Minarchist. What that means is that my view of government is that it should be only as powerful as it absolutely has to be in order to fulfill some basic functions such as border defense and enforcement of malum in se laws, not malum prohibitum laws (sorry to throw Latin at you, please Google those terms to see what they mean.)
As a side note: If this country’s founders were still around today, their political philosophy, I am confident, would be similar if not identical to my own.
My first official piece for Spinfuel will be as soon as this coming Friday. Not sure what it’ll be about yet; however, I plan to make my editorials a weekly occurrence. They’ll vary in tone and topic. Some will be grumptacular, if the subject matter I’m discussing merits grumpiness. Some will be tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted. But always at least one per week, and I promise always to at least try to entertain you. I’ve got much love for vapers, these genius, beautiful rebels, and I want you to feel that with every editorial.
As far as question? Yes, please! I’m here for the readers! Talk to me!
John Castle has been a working writer for over a decade. His Website Here He has produced over four dozen short stories in various genres from action yarns to macabre thrillers to supercharged and unusual fare for adventurous adult readers. He is also the screenwriter and story consultant behind the award-winning experimental psychological thriller Lighthouse Lane. John Castle begins his stint with Spinfuel eMagazine this week with his first of many commentaries. John will contribute commentaries and reviews on an ongoing basis.