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Yet Another Reason To Quit Smoking

Author: Zero Waste Volunteers

Smoking has long been deemed huge public health crisis. It’s ill-effects on the body in the form of cancer and other chronic illnesses have taken a huge toll on human life. However, the world still buys roughly 6.5 trillion cigarettes each year. That’s 18 billion every day. In the late 1930s, scientists began making connections between cigarettes and public health risks. By 1964 a comprehensive report showing a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers was published. As public concern over cigarettes ill effects mounted, the tobacco companies scrambled for solutions, one of which was cigarette filters. Cigarette filters came to be made out of a plastic called cellulose acetate. The cigarette itself is biodegradable, the filters are not.Cellulose acetate, a type of plastic, can take up to ten years to photo-degrade. Trillions of cigarette filters, also known as butts or ends, are left over, only an estimated third of which make it into the trash. The rest are casually flung into the street or out a window. When tossed into the environment, they dump not only that plastic, but also the nicotine, heavy metals, and many other chemicals they’ve absorbed into the surrounding environment. In fact, cigarette butts are the biggest ocean contaminant. Not plastic straws, like you probably thought.

With a shift in nature towards traditional cigarettes, people started looking for other options that would fulfil their desire for nicotine whilst keeping tobacco at bay. This is when e-cigarettes came into the big picture. Electronic cigarettes generally consist of four components: the cartridge or pod that holds the “e-juice” solution, a heating element, a battery, and a mouthpiece. The use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed. The leading manufacturer, Juul, for example, saw its sales increase nearly sevenfold between 2014 and 2017.

While serious side effects are rare, the long-term health effects of vaping aren’t entirely known, they have been found to contain a variety of potentially harmful substances, including cancer-causing chemicals. We won’t fully understand the range of vaping’s harmful effects for some time to come, just like tobacco and cigarettes in the past, it might take us several decades for us to really understand the full harmful effects of those products. Potential Long-Term Side Effects of Vaping can include lung injuries, respiratory problems, heart attack or stroke, reproductive issues and low birth weight related to vaping while pregnant.

Moreover, many e-cigarette manufacturers claim their product is an environmental solution to traditional cigarettes, because e-cigarettes can be reused and certain parts can be recycled. However that is not the whole picture.

As the prevalence of e-cigarettes has grown, so has the need to get rid of the waste. The main problem with e-cigarette waste is the cartridge or the pod, containing the nicotine, which is disposable in nature. It has a one time use after which they are thrown away once the nicotine containing liquid is emptied out. Moreover, the pod's mix of electronic components and nicotine puts them in a grey area for disposal. E-cigarettes are viewed both as hazardous waste and e-waste. The pods must be rinsed before being thrown in the normal trash but most users are unaware of this fact and dispose without proper measures.

In this day of anti-smoking facts all around us, you probably are aware of the ill effects it has on your body. However, we hope this article reaches out to anyone who has been unable to quit smoking or vaping despite the ill health effects. This is an attempt to make you understand the ill effects of smoking that go beyond your personal health. Smoking or vaping set in motion a chain of bad effects that pollute everyone and everything it comes in contact with; from your precious body to our precious earth. So, the next time you feel like lighting a cigarette or vaping think of not just your own health but that of our entire planet.