Going green isn't just about recycling and reducing your carbon footprint.
It's also about making choices that benefit the environment in more ways than one.
Quitting smoking and vaping may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of eco-friendly habits, but they can have a significant impact on the planet.
On the one hand, you have tobacco production which contributes to pollution, deforestation, and water waste. Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter in the world and can take years to decompose. Meanwhile, vaping is considered less damaging to our planet, but with the latest craze disposables contributing to roughly 1.3 million thrown away each week, containing batteries, here lies the dilemma.
By quitting smoking, using vaping as a cessation tool and then removing both altogether, you not only improve your health but also reduce your impact on the environment. In this article, we'll explore the environmental benefits of both habits and how you can make a positive difference for the planet.
The Environmental Impact of Smoking and Vaping
1. Cigarette Butts and Litter
Not only are cigarettes very bad for your health, contributing to eight million deaths per year worldwide, but they seriously impact the environment too. Cigarette butts alone account for 32% of all litter found on beaches and waterways for example, with 4.5 trillion cigarettes littered in total. Not only are they unpleasant to see on the floor, but they can also be harmful to wildlife. Plus, they can release toxic chemicals into the environment, including carcinogenic chemicals capable of causing cancer, such as carbon monoxide and over 50 others.
2. Air Pollution from Smoking and Vaping
Smoking also contributes to air pollution, which can have a significant impact on the environment and human health.
The World Health Organization (WHO), who campaigned in their 2022 message about the damage tobacco can do to the environment explained how it contributes to the loss of millions of trees, 22 billion tonnes of water and 84 million tonnes of CO2.
When these chemicals are released into the air, they can contribute to air pollution, which can lead to respiratory problems, heart disease, and other health issues. Vaping, while often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, still produces emissions, particularly indoors, that can contribute to air pollution.
3. Deforestation for Tobacco Farming
Tobacco farming also contributes to deforestation, which can have a significant impact on the environment.
According to the United Nations, tobacco farming is responsible for the clearing of over 200,000 hectares of forest each year.
So, for every 15 packs of cigarettes sold, a tree is chopped down to make way for the expensive and cruel habit, which reduces life expectancy. Deforestation not only destroys habitats for wildlife but also contributes to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, tobacco farming often involves the use of pesticides and other chemicals, which can contaminate soil and waterways.
4. Water Pollution from Cigarette Production
Cigarette production also contributes to water pollution, both through the use of water in the manufacturing process and through the disposal of cigarette waste. The production of tobacco requires large amounts of water, which can strain local water resources in areas where water is limited.
Is Vaping Better for the Environment Than Smoking?
What we have to remind you is neither smoking or vaping is good for your health or the environment.
But from both aspects, vaping is considered a better alternative and therefore recommended as a replacement.
Cigarettes are used by millions worldwide (although the numbers are dwindling in part thanks to vaping).
But with it, e-cigarettes carry environmental problems too. As we stated earlier, it can impact indoor air pollution and quality, and there is a rising issue with disposable vapes.
The compact kits have quickly become a trend among young vapers, and a huge problem for landfill sites. When not disposed of properly, they can cause all sorts of issues releasing electronical and hazardous chemical waste into the environment.
In addition, batteries are being wasted for a short-term device that is not sustainable. They have proved a useful entry into vaping for those looking to quit smoking due to their entry-level user-friendly nature. The good aspect is vaping does not create issues for those in the vicinity with passive vapour not a risk, in comparison to passive cigarette smoke.
But to reduce the damage disposables have done to the environment and as another desirable addiction, a longer-lasting vape pod kit or vape mod kit may be a more sustainable future for all involved. With one of these devices, you can reuse the same tank or pod and refill with your e-liquid more than once.
How to Quit Smoking and Vaping
In the past, the most effective nicotine replacement therapies for smokers were nicotine gum, patches, inhalators, tablets, lozenges and nasal sprays.
However, the previous decade has witnessed the rise of the e-cigarette as a more effective quitting replacement.
With that stems another issue – how do you quit vaping to benefit the environment even further?
Eventually, the plan should be to drop your nicotine level to zero before removing it from your lifestyle permanently.
Well, you have to find the best solution for yourself, as each individual is different. You can set a quit date and choose a friend who also smokes or vapes to be in it together, helping each other with any withdrawal symptoms. Alternatively, you could seek medical support or therapy through the NHS or private counselling. That along with other nicotine replacement therapies can help in your long-term goals. Things like meditation and yoga as calming exercises also go a long way.
Should Disposable Vapes Be Banned?
As well as the government's plan to reduce smoking numbers below 5% prevalence by 2030, they’re also looking at ways to curb e-cigarette use.
This is ranging from support at schools to tackle the youth vaping epidemic to looking at bans on flavours and restricting colourful packaging.
One other consideration is banning disposable vapes, which are difficult to monitor from a trade perspective and a legality issue too.
Banning them would stop the millions of underage children who are turning to vaping. And from an environmental standpoint, it would significantly reduce the number of batteries ending up on landfill sites (many of which are not disposed of correctly).
However, there may be more damaging long-term risks from the government if they keep pointing the finger at the vaping industry but continues to allow the sale of cigarettes on every shop corner. Where will the youth of today turn to then in a rebellious act?
So, there are positive and negative points to banning disposable vapes altogether. Perhaps instead they should raise the pricing of disposables and change the messaging and packing of disposable products.
Quitting smoking and vaping can have a significant impact on the environment, as well as your health.
By reducing the demand for tobacco products, we can help reduce deforestation, water waste, and pollution.
For those who find it difficult to quit, vaping is seen by many as the only effective alternative and is proven twice as effective as other methods.
If you're thinking about quitting smoking or vaping, there are many resources available to help you. Talk to your doctor, seek support from friends and family, and consider healthy alternatives to smoking and vaping. Together, we can make a positive difference for the planet.
Going green isn't just about recycling and reducing your carbon footprint. It's also about making choices that benefit the environment in more ways than one. Quitting smoking and vaping may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of eco-friendly habits, but they can have a significant impact on the planet.