Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic News asks a new question.  Are E-cigs less harmful on the environment than regular cigarettes?

This is new question, but once heard, makes perfect sense.  Environmentally, which between cigarettes and electronic cigarettes leaves a smaller foot print?  Brian brings up cigarette buts, how long they take to decay, and the toxins they leak back into the environment.

Although people are smoking less in America thanks to decades of public health campaigns, cigarette butts are still a significant trash problem. The core of the butt can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose. During that time, the cigarette filters are full of tar, nicotine, and other toxins that can leach into the ground, potentially affecting any organism that comes into contact with them.

Butts pushed by rain into storm drains can make it into the ocean, where they can release their toxic chemicals, or get eaten by fish or birds.

The impact cigarette smoking has, besides the normal ones health wise, really is staggering.  It is great at times to get to see a topic you follow so closely get explained through new eyes so you can notice things you may never have even considered.

Most electronic cigarettes are reusable, meaning only a tiny amount of vapor needs to be refilled for each use. This means they are potentially more eco-friendly than going through mountains of single-use products, which take resources to produce. e-Cigarettes are typically powered by reusable batteries, and are often charged via USB ports.

Because electronic cigarettes don’t produce smoke, they are much less risky to non-users and to air quality in general. The health impacts on users are not well known, since the products have only been on the market for a few years.

He does mention the cautionary side as well.  But here is what sums up his article for me.

While some health professionals suggest consumers steer clear of e-cigarettes, it’s also possible that they could function as a useful smoking cessation intermediary. It’s obvious that quitting smoking is difficult, so maybe there is value to a product that may or may not cause some harm, but that helps one stop using a product that we know causes harm.

It’s clear e-cigarettes are safer for non-users, so does that qualify them as a worthy lesser of two evils?

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