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"Smoking Is Back, Without the Stigma" reads the headline to the latest trend piece in The New York Times, which claims that everyone who is anyone is taking puffs of e-cigarettes with impunity. And in doing so, they've ignored the biggest stigma of e-cigarettes: they kinda make you look like an awful person.

Manufacturers say e-cigarettes aren't as bad for you as real cigarettes (though this has been debated). While they do contain nicotine solution, electronic cigarettes emit a water vapor instead of tobacco smoke. And they have had a long and tumultuous battle in trying to overcome their lack of cool.

Well, today's their day. According to The Times's Steven Kurutz, the following are the indicators that e-cigarettes have finally arrived as the most important single factor in our culture:

  • Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • "Bikini-topped women"
  • "Sweaty guys in muscle tees"
  • Transient techno parties
  • Technology consultant from New Jersey 
  • Tattooed Web designers
  • Writers at Vice
  • Models
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • One publicist
  • Editor
  • Secret code ("The e-smoker will “put the cigarette to their forehead" to show it isn't a real cigarette.)
  • SoHo
  • Courtney Love
  • "Brooklyn Vapourette"
  • Rooftop bar
  • Le Baron
  • Meat-packing District
  • Bagatelle

Those who use e-cigarettes even call the habit "vaping" or "vaporing" to distinguish it from smoking. 

Okay, whatever. Kurutz has ignored a vocal, and universal truth: that people believe that "vapers" are, well, jerks — though the word used more often is the insult associated with a feminine hygiene device. 

For example, in 2009, Something Awful certified the electronic cigarette as "douchebag gear." 

And the backlash just kept coming. "I'm sorry, but if you're going to smoke e-cigarettes, maybe you should just get back onto the hard stuff, or go cold turkey," wrote Gizmodo's Kat Hannaford in 2011. "You look bloody stupid," Hannaford added, noting that increasing the chance of lung cancer cancer may be the lesser of the two evils.

And coming. Earlier this year, dude-bro site College Humor identified electronic cigarette smokers as one of its "seven new breeds of douchebag" (above) asserting that these smokers descended from one of the archaic feminine hygiene vessels of yore: The Clove Cigarette Smoker. They also debated whether or not electronic cigarette smokers were more or less awful than Kickstarter artists.

You also have to remember that some e-cigarette smokers are not helping their own image. Sure, there are the sterling Brooklyn-based examples Kurutz cited, but there are also smokers like Pogos Paul Sefilian who, in 2011, pelted the crew of a Southwest flight with peanuts after they told him to stop vaping. "Flight attendants asked him several times to close the bins and sit down, but he refused and 'postured his chest out'" CNN reported at the time. Posturing one's chest out is actually a good way to let people know they should not take you seriously. 

And you also have to remember who's selling these cigarettes to you. "You'll meet more people than ever, just because of the wow factor," Jason Healy, the founder of Blu, an electronic cigarette that alerts you if there's another e-cigarette smoker nearby, told The New York Times ... in a different article from two years ago (Blu makes an appearance in today's story).

If you want to meet people over a shared "wow factor," then there's not really much we can do for you.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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