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Smoking vs. Vaping – The Environmental Impact

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If you thought cigarettes only killed people, think again. There’s a few hard and fast facts not everyone knows:

  • 1 in 2 smokers will die from their habit
  • There isn’t a single organ in your body that smoking doesn’t damage
  • Smoke-related diseases cost the NHS a whopping £11 billion a year
  • 67 kids in London aged 11-15 who take up smoking every day.

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The statistics on cigarettes effects on people’s health are pretty devastating. However, it isn’t just people that smoking has an effect on, what not everyone considers is the effect smoking has on the environment too.

For all the flack that millennials get- “sitting on your backside glued to that iPhone, and no, rainbow bagels are NOT a food!”, this generation is stepping up to the plate. They’re stepping up to mankind’s biggest killer, mod-in-hand. They’re filling their bathroom shelves with vegan beauty. They also appear to be the first generation to genuinely consider the impact their lifestyle will have on the environment. This is especially important when you consider new studies from the UN are telling us we only have 12 years before global warming has an irreversible and devastating effect. These changes will impact people, wildlife and landscapes the world over.

“Here’s something that has nothing to do with smoking (or vaping) until you look at it. The environment.

As rumours of flavour bans swamp the US media, including some cities having already banned them, the environmental benefits of vaping should also be carefully considered as well as just the health benefits.

Here’s What Smoking Actually Does To The Planet

  • 540 million trees are cut down each year to make cigarettes. It takes one tree to make just 300 cigarettes, which only equates to a carton and a half.
  • Cigarette smoke creates 10 times more air pollution than a diesel engine left running for 30 minutes.
  • Cigarette butts are the most-littered item in the world. They amount to around 30% of all litter with over 4.5 trillion cigarettes littered worldwide each year.
  • Cigarettes poison entire ocean ecosystems. Fish mistake cigarette butts for worms and insects. With an estimated 50% of all marine life now ingesting plastic and as much as 90% of all seabirds. Plastic filters through the ecosystem and often eventually ends up on human plates.
  • Cigarette smoke releases two of the planet’s main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) which in turn increase the overall temperature of our atmosphere.

How Does Vaping Compare?

The effects of quitting smoking are evident after just 24 hours, while it would take a little longer to notice a difference in the environment the impact long term would be significant.

Vaping vs. smoking culture is something to consider. Whereas smoking creates a lot of waste and emissions from the start of the manufacturing process through to transport and finally their use, vaping is a lot more conservative.

  • Vapers are natural recyclers. Most components that make up a vape are reusable. The tanks alone get hundreds of uses before they need to be replaced and innovative new coil heads mean less of the tank needs replacing than earlier models.
  • Vaping results in far less waste. The 1.6 billion pounds of cigarette butts that contribute to annual worldwide waste are hard to come by with vaping. To litter cigarette-style, you need a cigarette. Cigarette butts in San Francisco alone forced local authorities to enforce a 20% purchase tax to deal with the $10.7 million spent every year to clear up pavements covered in cigarette butts.
  • Vapers are recycling their batteries. Much like tanks, batteries will last for hundreds of recharges. Regardless of whether it’s a box mod with internal batteries or a pod kit, users are able to keep the same device and batteries for a long time.
  • Packaging for vaping products is also recyclable. With 2.9 million Brits now vaping, there are less cellophane wrappers and more recyclable bottles made from aluminium, plastic and glass.

E-Cigarette Emissions vs. Cigarette Emissions

When it comes to environmental emissions, e-cigarettes win, hands-down

Smokers were recently estimated to be responsible for up to 84,878 tonnes of air pollution annually. That figure equates to around half the amount produced by all cars in the USA. Meanwhile, vaping produces no side stream smoke or pollutants, just vapour. The British Journal of Medical Practice had this to say about in 2014:

“[E-cig] vapour contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as in cigarette smoke.”

Second-Hand Smoke vs. Second-Hand Vapour

The NHS webpage on second-hand smoke sums it up as: “When you smoke, it’s not just your health that’s put at risk, but the health of anyone around you.” The 2016 government ban on smoking in cars with children wasn’t put into place without evidence. Smoking exposes anyone near you to over 7000 toxic chemicals. It also increases the risk of coronary heart disease by over 25%- this figure applies to the passive smoker rather than the individual who’s actually smoking. On opt of that, second hand smoke can also cause lung cancer, stroke and the “risk of complete heart failure”.

Second-hand vapour is being investigated. There is currently zero conclusive evidence to suggest that second-hand vapour causes harm. Even those vaping with nicotine have a negligible impact on bystanders, the amount of nicotine a second-hand vaper would be inhaling is a fraction of what the vaper inhales. A staggering number of smokers continue to think that nicotine causes cancer, in reality it’s no more harmful than caffeine.

This study found “no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions”.

The Effect on Waterways

There’s an increasing and worrying number of studies indicating the amount of waste in our oceans from smoking alone. According to No-Smoke, data derived from the Ocean Conservancy calculated 3,216,991 cigarettes or cigarette butts collected from worldwide beaches or inland waterways in 2009. In the US, the impact also includes 18,555 lighters and 36,397 tobacco packages. Due to their chemical composition, cigarettes leak arsenic, ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and lead when introduced to water.

“One cigarette butt can kill a fish in a regular 1-litre water container”.

Fish will swim up to cigarette butts, assume that they’re seeing worms or insects and ingest them. Vaping increases the quality of life for humans, oceans, forests and the planet. Make the switch today.

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