John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

It's one puff they will allow

John Weekes gauges reactions to his e-cigarette at Britomart. Photo / Doug Sherring
John Weekes gauges reactions to his e-cigarette at Britomart. Photo / Doug Sherring

A female security guard grabs my arm and hisses, "No smoking! You can't smoke!"

But I'm not smoking. I'm vaping - puffing from an increasingly popular device called an e-cigarette. The vaporisers deliver a nicotine hit without the tar and stink of cigarettes - but will they be accepted where smokers aren't?

Supermodel Kate Moss reportedly spent $5000 this week on an emergency flight of her favourite e-cigarette brand to Spain.

Despite glowing blue at the tip, my e-ciggie looks like the real thing.

At Auckland City Hospital, where a strict smoke-free policy applies, an e-cig goes nicely with coffee in the busy third-floor lobby.

Increasingly theatrical vaping occurs, but no one raises an eyebrow. The silly blue light on the tip has probably appeased onlookers.

Before leaving, I ask a security guard for permission to use the e-cig.

No way, she says. "It will set off the smoke alarm," a passing bureaucrat adds.

It won't, but the security guard politely tells me to take it outside.

At the Downtown Shopping Mall food court, one heavyset young man frowns but says nothing. Other diners don't care or notice at all.

I walk out puffing past a security guard, seeking a response. Nothing.

Vaping at Britomart Train Station earns disgusted glares from an elderly man, yet he says nothing. I walk past multiple security staff, producing as much vapour as possible. It takes effort to spark an over-reaction. I approach a short, middle-aged female security officer and ask if the device may be used inside the cavernous station. She grabs my arm and wags her finger as I try to explain the technology.

She follows up with threats in broken English about "security cameras", and I give up.

At the plush Heritage Hotel lobby, there are plenty of frowns but nobody says a word. A concierge approaches but retreats when seeing the blue light.

Ash communications manager Michael Colhoun said vaping indoors was legal. "The Smokefree Environments Act talks about combustible products."

But Colhoun said it would take time for people to understand e-cigarettes.

We do know vaping might make you look, well, vapid. But it won't make you stink like an ashtray.

- Herald on Sunday

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