Electric Cigarettes and the Environmental Footprint
Discover how e-cigs help reduce your environmental footprint while allowing you to enjoy smoking and get the nicotine your body craves
There is perhaps no topic of greater importance than the environment and the future of our children. This is all too evident in the recent flood of interest on reducing our environmental footprint, thanks to the threat of climate change, and greenhouse gases, and other pollutants.
In an age where “going green” applies to every facet of modern life, it is not surprising that the issue has been much debated in the smoking community.
For many years, the harmful effects of smoking tobacco, or analog cigarettes, were an acknowledged and inevitable consequence. But recently, the innovation of the electric cigarette gave smokers a healthier option, and has claimed to be more environmentally friendly product. Smokers can now enjoy the feeling of nicotine without harming the environment.
Critics of e-cigs do not agree that this new product will help us leave a smaller ecological footprint, but supporters wholeheartedly disagree. The debate rages on as more information comes in. As far as the environment is concerned, is there really a difference between smoking analog and electric cigarettes?
The Problem – Traditional Cigarettes and the Environment
It is well documented that approximately 5.5 trillion analog cigarettes are produced globally every year. That startling number means that every person on the planet could smoke over 785 cigarettes every year, and unfortunately, such a large quantity translates to a significant amount of discarded cigarette butts. The U.S. alone spends an estimated $11.5 billion per year on cleaning up litter, and cigarette butts make up 38% of the litter worldwide, making it the single most littered item in the world, according to Earth911.com.
Keeping in mind that it takes nearly 2,000 cigarette butts to equal 1 pound, over 2 billion pounds of butts are discarded annually, and a large percentage of those are ending up in the wrong places.
When a cigarette butt is improperly discarded, it most often ends up being washed or blown into the water supply, where the saturation releases toxic chemicals held within the filter. This harmful process has been scientifically proven to have devastating consequences on aquatic and avian life who mistake the cigarette butts for food and are poisoned by the chemicals.
In addition, cigarette butts are not biodegradable.
There seems to be much debate about the definition of “biodegradable,” but the term, as defined by the scientific community, is applied to matter that can be decomposed by living organisms, such as bacteria. Although it takes 12 years for a cigarette butt to break down, microscopically speaking, the remnants and toxic chemicals remain for far longer.
In light of these facts, how can electric cigarettes offer to provide a solution?
Environmental pros of electric cigarettes
A recent study by Freakonomics.com found that smokers produce 84,878 tons of air pollution every year, a number equal to half of the pollution put out by all cars in the U.S.
The pollutants we are talking about here instigate more harm than just the smoky haze seen over large cities, but are known poisonous compounds—ammonia, acetone, arsenic, formaldehyde, tar, and carbon monoxide, to name a few. These disease-causing chemicals released by analog cigarettes not only threaten the environment, but human health through secondhand smoke.
In contrast, electric cigarettes do not release secondhand smoke chemicals into the atmosphere. Through the vaporizing of liquid nicotine, e-cigs release nicotine gas, water, and propylene glycol (PG). Water and nicotine, obviously, are naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, and PG is an organic compound and primarily composed of carbon, another naturally found biological chemical.
Secondly, an absence of analog cigarettes means an absence of cigarette butts, the number one most littered item in the world. As an added benefit, electric cigarettes allow the user to “reduce, reuse, recycle”, as the motto from the EPA suggests to promote environmental conscientiousness. Since one e-cig cartomizer is equal to about 40 analog cigarettes (…depending on the type and brand), users can reduce the amount of waste produced. Most electric cigarettes can also be cleaned and reused by simply replacing the vapor before each use, and when it is ready to be disposed of, e-cigs can be recycled, along with batteries, phones, and other e-waste.
Environmental cons of electric cigarettes
A common argument arising from opponents of electric cigarettes is that the factories required to produce e-cigs are more harmful than it’s worth. In other words, the air pollution emitted by their factories outweighs any potential good that electric cigarettes do. In response, e-cig proponents point out that, as of now, electric cigarette companies rent factory space to make their product, so the factory would be manufacturing another product if they weren’t making e-cigs, and the amount of pollution emitted would be the same regardless.
Advocates are also quick to point out that this argument simply shifts the blame from tobacco factories, which are also responsible for air pollution when they make their product.
Another point raised against e-cigs is that the pollution of improperly disposed cartomizers and batteries would be just as bad, if not worse, for the environment as filters from analog cigarettes. E-cig supporters acknowledge this danger, but counter by pointing out that it is illegal to discard lithium ion batteries…after all, a very little amount of all the batteries in the world end up as litter.
In other words, walk down the street and what will you see—batteries or cigarette butts? Dead batteries tend to end up in forgotten drawers or the garbage, not in the stomachs of wildlife.
The debate on the environmental benefits of electric cigarettes rages on, as parties from both sides seek a better understanding of how we can better protect our planet. Since the topic of environment and the future of our kids can never be taken too lightly, scientists must be thorough in discovering the long-term effects of analog vs. electric cigarettes, but promising new studies are showing that e-cigs are taking an edge.
More improvements need to be made to ensure e-cigs will continue to leave a small environmental footprint when demand grows in the future. There are constantly new and exciting advancements being made that have applicable uses in electric cigarette technology, such as a recent MIT study in faster-charging, more durable lithium batteries, which would of course substantially reduce waste by providing longer-lasting batteries.
With startling rapidity, scientists are discovering how to extend the use of batteries, cartomizers, and mouthpieces, and perhaps even find a more organic compound for e-cig production, instead of pure plastic.
Ultimately, it will depend on vapers themselves to dispose of their electric cigarettes responsibly, but it is little debated that e-cigs offer users better opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
This is one step closer to reducing our overall environmental footprint on the planet, or perhaps better said, one footprint erased.
If you’re a smoker, or want to enjoy smoking without many of the negative effects it can have on your health and the environment, we invite you to consider electric cigarettes from Eversmoke.
Our 2-piece technology and durable batteries and cartomizers allow you to enjoy smoking while reducing your overall footprint on the planet – it’s a win-win for both your personal health and the health of the world!!