United Kingdom-based electronic cigarette company Gamucci will be opening a “Vaping Zone” at Heathrow Airport in London. This marks the first vaping-encouraged zone in an airport in the world as far as we know. Certainly Gamucci stands to make a pretty penny off the captive vapers that will inevitably be stuck in Heathrow from time to time, but is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Certainly it can be seen as a good thing because it encourages and supports vaping in a high security and normally uptight area. By supporting and allowing vaping in areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited, it creates a distinction between the two. Currently, electronic cigarettes are subject to the same restrictions as tobacco cigarettes within Heathrow — that is, they can’t be used inside and can only be used in designated outside areas.
On the other hand, this raises concerns that the answer to vapers will generally be to sequester them away from the general public the same way smokers are. So although they may not be placed as far away from others as smokers are, it still encourages the view of electronic cigarettes as something that demands separation from “normal people.”
As with most things, there isn’t an explicitly correct answer. Certainly, allowing an in-terminal vaping zone is a compromise, but it still treats e-cig users like smokers are treated in so many other places. It will be interesting to see how other airports treat the issue moving forward. Perhaps well see more Vaping Zones in the near future.