A follower of our organization requested for us to share this opinion piece she wrote as it regards to e-cigs:
By Leigh Marcos
E-Cigarettes are Bad for You and Bad for the Environment
On Oahu we are busy trying to cut down on plastic bags and make our shoreline safer for all, but we still have a smoking problem. A few years ago e-cigarettes and vaping devices were presented to us as a solution to ending nicotine addiction, but more recent studies are suggesting that this is not the case – quite the opposite in fact. Furthermore, because of them, less cigarette butts are being left trodden into our paths and beaches, but does that mean vaping is good for the environment?
The Human Impact
The original hype stated that the devices could be used to control the amount of nicotine a user inhales. Each user could then slowly reduce the dosage until clean of nicotine. However, studies have shown that they not only decrease the chances of someone giving up, but actually increase the amount they smoke.
While this study has been disputed for poor methodology by some, other studies have shown that 250,000 American teens have become addicted to nicotine purely through the use of vaping devices and e-cigarettes, ones often given fruity flavors like the alcoholic soda drinks of the 1990s.
Worst of all, more recent studies are showing that more toxins and carcinogens get through to the lungs than previously expected meaning they are a less unhealthy alternative rather than a healthy one.
The Environmental Impact
According to major studies, cigarette butts including filters account for up to 21% of coastal litter worldwide and 38% of all litter across the globe. They are created from plastic called cellulose acetate.
So that means the never discarded e-cigarettes and vaping devices with their re-chargeable batteries and refillable cartridges are environmentally friendly, right? Wrong. According to most vendors, these devices wear out within weeks rather than months or years. While few studies into their environmental impact exist, it seems obvious that their degradation time is akin to other non-recycled plastics, which is in the hundreds of years. Even if all parts are recycled, which is no given due to being a device and to many owners not knowing how to recycle them.
Furthermore, there is the impact of their emissions. Not just how the extra nicotine affects non-smokers, but what USC Biterbi calls “higher levels (than traditional cigarettes) of… nickel, zinc, and silver.”