In a small shop after closing hours, a crowd of people stand in a haze of vapour. A hush descends as two men walk onto a makeshift stage.
Judges sit on stools off to the side and one of them takes the mic;
One, two, three…DRAW.
Then men take a huge breath in, drawing on their e-cigs and then each exhale a ginormous, dense cloud of vapour. The judges watch these clouds and measure them against a wall sized ruler that sits behind the stage.
Number one is the winner.
A cheer goes up from the crowd, number one has just won $1000 and recognition from his fellow vapers.
Welcome to the world of competitive vaping.
Is cloud chasing the next extreme sport?
With prize money anywhere from $100 up to $2000, professional cloud chasers are championing vaping as the next extreme sport.
Sponsors and vaping companies are starting teams of cloud chasers who compete in these competitions, modding their e-cigs to allow for maximum cloud production and winning money for themselves and recognition for their sponsor.
A league has even been started, to track team’s wins, awarding points and overall success.
What started out as an alternative to traditional tobacco, a way to quit smoking for good, has bread a sub culture that no one could have predicted.
Sponsorship deals from large vaping companies, clothing lines, travelling to vape expos and large vape shops for cloud chasing competitions and admiration from vapers across the globe.
Although this could be seen as comical to some, there are a sub-set of vapers who make a living from being a ‘professional’. For those who manage to set themselves aside from the thousands of Youtube reviews, bloggers and instagrammers, there is a living to be made.
This is huge in the states, in the slightly more conservative UK the vaping sub-culture is relatively small and sometimes frowned upon.
The dangers of cloud chasing
Although I can understand why some people would want to turn their hobby into a profession, I can also see the downside of competitive vaping.
The key to these huge clouds of vapour is an extremely low resistance atomizer. Using mechanical mods and drippers, vapers build their own coils and ensure the resistance is as low as can be. This means the coil will heat up very quickly and create these competition winning clouds of vapour. This means that batteries are pushed to their limits and anyone without an advanced knowledge of Ohm’s law and battery safety will inevitably have an accident.
It has happened before, batteries venting in the middle of crowds, setting fire to ceiling tiles and floors.
Anti-vaping groups are always looking for an excuse to give vaping a bad name and with competitive vaping we are surely giving them ammunition?
What do you think of competitive vaping? Is there a place for ‘professional’ vapers in the vaping community?
Let us know in the comments below.