Does God really exist? Does science support climate change? Is vaping straight edge?
These are some of the questions that have baffled the minds of scholars, doctors, and hardcore intellects across the country. Their minds have been plagued with the gray areas of self-evaluation and moral crossroads. Do you break edge for a puff of Cocoa Puff flavored water vapor? Is it even technically breaking edge?
What started as a curious question between friends at the office turned into a somewhat worthwhile debate: Is using a vaporizer considered straight edge? It seemed like too much of a subjective question to ever write an objective piece on. Of course, anything that contains nicotine is inherently not straight edge, because it is a poison you’re putting into your body. That’s not really debatable. But some people use vaporizers containing no nicotine at all, they just enjoy the flavors and blowing milky clouds on Instagram.
We decided that This Is Hardcore Fest would probably the best place to conduct our investigation. From face tattoos representing the edge to grimy punks smoking non-filters, there are few places more suitable to find such a wide range of passionate yet different mindsets.
Levi, 28, is from California and runs the clothing company American Straight Edge. He says vaping is definitely not straight edge because of its aesthetics and addicting quality. “It’s just as sketchy as smoking,” he says. Since having three kids, Levi now drinks coffee. His edge idol is Toby Morse from H20.
Robert and Mandy
Robert and Mandy are both edge and from Eastern Germany. Mandy feels that vaping isn’t bad if there isn’t any nicotine involved, but Robert immediately disagreed. She described the various flavors available as comparable to “unique tasting tofu for vegetarians.”
“I still don’t know exactly what it is,” says Preston, a 31-year-old teacher at a performing arts school. “I wouldn’t judge them for doing it, but it isn’t within the parameters of straight edge.” Although he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for someone claiming edge, he does think that some people get too hung up on semantics. He references the Minor Threat song “Out of Step,” where Ian MacKaye sings, “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t fuck!” Then he asks me, “Do you think MacKaye never had sex? It’s open for interpretation; the logic is about making wise decisions for yourself. It’s not just about XXXs, it’s not a club, it’s about progression for your own life.”
“It depends on the person and if it has nicotine in it, sometimes it’s just flavored juice and water vapor,” says Michelle, from Salisbury, MD a town she says is full of vapers. Currently, she’s rockin the Fuji Apple-Pear, and says it’s healthier than cigarettes but there isn’t much research yet. She’s using it to quit smoking and is not straight edge.
Joanna and Her Friend Max
Joanna isn’t straight edge, but she respects it fully. She smoked cigarettes for a decade, but has been bogie free for an entire year because of her strawberry-flavored vape. She says most cigarettes have 12-20% nicotine and she’s now down to 3% on her vape. For her it works, but she doesn’t understand how someone who didn’t need an extra habit would pick it up just for the sake of it.
“As a person who uses a vaporizer, I fucking hate cloud chasers. I hate people who do it just to be cool, people who vape and are like, ‘Look at my cloud bro!’ It helped me stop smoking cigarettes and getting this terrible shit out of my body. It’s mostly vegetable glycerin and nuts that are fermented, which is way less harmful.”
Her friend Max has Xs on his wrist and says that vaping is “absolutely not” straight edge. He got really mad when some douche started puffing his Jägermeister-flavored vape inside his skate shop. He said it looked like the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars and stunk up the place like an IHOP.
This self-proclaimed “Vape Slut” has been straight edge for 10 years and does not vape. She says everyone thinks it’s healthier, but it really isn’t and it smells just as bad. By her standards, it isn’t straight edge because although it isn’t a drug, it still falls under the idea of smoking, which is basically the same thing. Nicotine or not, it’s not edge.
Travis is 28 and from Kentucky, he now works as a tattoo artist in Chicago. He thought my audio recorder looked like a Taser, one strong enough to take down some cattle. He thanks the straight edge community for his work ethic and life path.
“Vaping is terrible,” he said. “It’s good in the way that some people use it to eventually quit smoking, but people that just do it anyway, you’re still getting the nicotine, you still have an addiction and an oral fixation to worry about and it’s still harmful to you.”
Although vaping doesn’t bother him nearly as much as cigarettes smoke does, he doesn’t like walking around smelling like gummy bears or hazelnut. As far as tattooing goes, he’s inked plenty of varsity Xs, eagles with shields and straight razors.
Chris and Charles
Chris (right) lives in Atlanta, GA and has never drank, smoked or done a drug in his life. He claimed straight edge 14 years ago.
“Are people trying to say that they’re straight edge and doing it?” he asked. “I would never vape personally, but if there’s someone who says they’re straight edge and are vaping, I don’t give a fuck, their edge does not affect my edge, ever.”
Charlie Reckless, 36, (left) says he’s a recovering drug addict from Charleston, SC. He used to follow Pantera on tour growing up, and used vaping to quit smoking years ago. “Do I think if a straight edge kid starting vaping, would he be breaking edge? Of course I do, why would you go introducing chemicals into your body that weren’t already there?” His words of advice: “Kids, stay off the vape man, it’s not cool!”
Joey is a 29-year-old from Delaware. “Vaping is not straight edge, but it’s definitely street edge. Street edge, basically, is if something that would normally be an edge break is left abandoned, say, on the street, such as a half-beer or a not-smoked cigarette, and you’re taking that, it’s not breaking edge. It’s straight edge. I’m straight edge, but soon to be street edge, with this new realization I’ve had about vaping.” He’s never actually vaped, but he supports it.
Matty used to mark Xs on his hands, but that was before he did any sort of substance. He’s a Type 1 Diabetic and a lightweight at consuming beer or weed, so he’s been cutting back lately. Matty smoked cigarettes for about 10 years, but now only rocks the E-Cig. He’s a month cigarette free and can now feel his toes and his vision is clearing. He doesn’t think his E-Cig is straight-edge, because it’s made by Marlboro and contains nicotine. When asked about those who don’t use nicotine, he said, “I feel like people who solely smoke cookies-n-cream don’t necessarily not smoke weed, light incense, and own two bongs.”
This guy is also named Joey. He smoked from ages 13-30, but now just smokes his peanut butter and banana flavored vape. “Had I never started smoking the last thing I would do is something like that, it wouldn’t make sense to be straight edge and do it even without nicotine, why even use it?” Then again, Joey says can’t even relate to being straight edge. He loves LSD and finds it therapeutic.
Tony from Harrisburg, PA just got into hardcore. He’s been vaping for three years and used to smoke two packs a day. He vapes a lot, but at least he quit cigs altogether. He mostly blames the oral fixation. He doesn’t do smoking tricks, but he custom builds his own coils. He’s spent an estimated $700 on vaporizers in total. As far as flavor, cereal is usually his go-to. Crunch Berries or Fruity Pebbles.
Derek Scancarelli smokes Newports like a true badass. He's on Twitter.