Vaping vs. Smoking: Which Is Better for the Environment?

Tobacco and nicotine are harmful to people and to the environment. When users improperly dispose of their cigarette butts, the toxic chemicals and heavy metals found in them can pollute the earth and its resources.

Studies have also shown that both tobacco and e-cigarette waste harm animals by poisoning them.

How Cigarettes Can Harm the Environment

1) Cigarette Butts Are Thrown Just Anywhere

Cigarette butts are the number one form of marine pollution and the most littered item in the world. While this fact is disturbing, the most disturbing part of it is that most people are not aware of the harm they are doing to the environment.

Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic. Once dumped into waterways, the butts leach toxic chemicals such as nicotine, ammonia and heavy metals into the water. These toxic chemicals then enter the soil, water and ecosystem.

2) Production Process Causes Pollution

Tobacco farming is harmful to the environment because it involves the intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides. The production process can also cause pollution when it involves burning wood, paper and trash.

Cigarette production may be one of the biggest contributors of dioxins, a toxic chemical that damages the nervous system, to the earth’s environment.

How E-Cigarettes Can Harm the Environment

1) Presence of Lead and Mercury

The e-liquid in e-cigarettes comes in a variety of flavours. Some flavours contain naturally-occurring lead and mercury, which are classified as heavy metals. Because of this, e-cigarette users must handle e-liquids carefully to avoid ingestion of these toxic chemicals.

2) Lithium-Ion Batteries Can Explode

One of the components in e-cigarettes is the lithium-ion battery. While these are rechargeable and can be used many times, they can still explode. Lithium-ion batteries can explode when they are exposed to extreme temperatures and punctured.

Benefits of E-Cigarettes

1) E-Cigarettes Are Less Harmful

E-cigarettes are known to be less harmful than cigarettes. E-cigarettes eliminate the harmful chemicals and carry nicotine in e-liquid. Compared to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, are smoke-free and don’t have the odour typical of cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they do not make ash or produce secondhand smoke.

2) There Is Less Waste

Because e-cigarettes eliminate tobacco and other harmful chemicals, they don’t create as much waste as cigarettes. E-cigarettes have a reusable container known as a cartomiser. Most of the other parts are also reusable.

E-cigarettes can also be adjusted to produce more vapour or less vapour.

3) E-Cigarettes Are Legal

E-cigarettes can be used publicly in most places. Although some states have laws that ban e-cigarette use, the majority of the states have no restrictions. The FDA and other health agencies have yet to find proof that e-cigarettes are safe or that they help smokers to quit. Because of this, the FDA considers e-cigarettes as tobacco products.

However, the FDA has not banned e-cigarettes. This is because the agency has no clear evidence that e-cigarettes lead to more tobacco use.


E-cigarettes may change from a trend to a new norm. The future of e-cigarettes can be bright when the necessary precautions are taken to reduce their impact on the environment. Businesses and policymakers should support e-cigarette users by providing them with information on how to recycle or dispose of the used materials properly.

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