October 30, 2015

Using e-cigarettes instead of actual cigarettes in forests can help to prevent forest fires

Using e-cigarettes instead of actual cigarettes in forests can help to prevent forest fires.

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.

He writes:

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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