Last month, we brought you the story that the National Parks Service (NPS) in the United States had decided to ban vaping in all of its locations, from Yosemite to Grand Canyon. We think pretty much any ban on vaping is a silly idea, but this one stands out as particularly bad for all kinds of reasons. Vaping doesn’t produce litter. Cigarettes are proven to produce toxic fumes that damage the air, the same cannot be said for vaping.
For centuries, humans have been mucking up our natural resources, and forest fires are no exception, with 90% of them started by people. The effort to fight forest fires in an incredibly costly one. For the first time in The U.S. Forest Services over one hundred year history, the organization is spending more than half of its budget to fight wildfires. And that cost is only rising. The Forest Service predicts that by 2025, the U.S. could be spending as much as $2 billion a year to fight wildfires. Even worse than the monetary cost of these fires is the human cost. Firefighters and citizens have tragically lost their lives to wildfires, and many more have lost their homes.
We can only imagine that discarded cigarette butts are involved in a high percentage of those fires. People often forget that along with the long-term health hazards presented by smoking, they also come with a fire risk. So it would seem counterintuitive for the NPS to discourage the use of a nicotine product that comes with almost no fire risk whatsoever. As we quoted in our piece on the subject, vapes are about as much of a fire risk as a cell phone battery. We doubt that the NPS will be moving to ban cell phones anytime soon.
At best, combustible cigs will damage the natural order and beauty of a national park as they littered all over the ground. At worst, they are starters for disastrous fires that put lives and natural resources in danger.
In a recent opinion piece in The Washington Examiner, written by Jan Verleur, who is a co-founder of V2, a Miami-based vaping company, takes the NPS to task for its “knee-jerk, bureaucratic move” that makes “little sense.”
Verleur references a study conducted in Massachusetts, where researchers found that residential fires dropped by nearly 30% after a state law deemed that only “fire-safe” cigarettes would be available for sale there. While this law was put in place to prevent home fires, the same principle would apply to fires created by man in the wild. Unfortunately, such rules do not exist in every state, so smokers who enter national parks may or may not be carrying “fire-safe” cigs with them.
There’s no truly effective way to enforce a smoking ban in a vast national park. If you want to stomp through Yosemite’s 761,266 acres shaking your finger at cig-smokers, be our guest. So why ban vaping when it could give nicotine users all of the fix without any of the risk?