In an op-ed piece, Jan Verleur points out that in 2014 in Masachusetts, researchers found that after the implementation of a law allowing only the sale of “fire-safe cigarettes” in the state, residential fires “dropped by nearly 30 percent”.
In the US, forest fires cost about $700 million yearly in terms of property damage. Suppressing those wildfires cost even more on top of that – up to $1 billion a year and could go up to $1.8 billion.
While Verleur agrees that it’s appropriate to ban smoking in national and state parks, he questions the reasoning behind banning electronic cigarettes as well.
What was the logic in making this decision? If the Park Service thinks banning e-cigarettes will do anything to prevent forest fires, they need to think again. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes involve no combustion and emit no smoke or ash — thus, no fire hazard. The water-based vapor that e-cigarettes produce dissipates quickly, and there’s no cigarette butt waste to discard.
The best electronic cigarette products are, in fact, about as much of a fire hazard as any other electronic device. Like the mobile phone in your pocket or your digital e-reader, e-cigarettes are a highly engineered, technically sophisticated product. Would the Park Service consider prohibiting smartphones in the same places where cigarettes aren’t allowed? Not a chance.
He adds that e-cigs could even “help prevent forest fires to begin with”.
And in an incident this summer in Soap Lake, Wash., it was an electronic cigarette — used as a fire-safe alternative to a pack of regular cigarettes — that helped police negotiators draw out an armed suspect from a wooded area where he was hiding. When the suspect had asked for a pack of cigarettes, police (rightly) denied the request, not wanting to start a fire. Luckily someone had the presence of mind to suggest an e-cigarette.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Explorer
Photo by Jörg Schubert
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