Forest fires cause nationwide devastation each year with an estimated $700 million in property damage and $1 billion spent on fire suppression tactics annually. People cause 90 percent of wildfires and the leading causes of these blazes are cigarettes that are not properly discarded. That’s why the National Park Service has banned smoking in national and state parks. But last month, the National Park Service took things one step further and banned ecigs as well. The question is why?
The Park Service apparently banned ecigs in an effort to prevent forest fires, but a simple look at ecig technology shows that this isn’t a sufficient reason. Ecigarettes do not operate like regular cigarettes at all. With no tobacco to burn, the devices don’t require any flame because they are battery operated. There is no ash, no smoke, and ultimately no fire hazard.
In reality, ecigarettes cause the same fire risk as any other electronic device. If we are going to ban ecigs as a fire hazard, then cell phones, cameras, and iPods need to be banned as well. After all, they all operate using similar battery technology. Of course, the Park Service would never suggest prohibiting smartphones, would they?
If we really want to improve fire safety in our national parks, we should be embracing ecigarettes rather than shunning them. Ecigs pose a safer alternative for smokers who are likely to sneak a cigarette even in places where they are banned. If smokers have the option to use ecigs in high risk areas for fires, then they might make the smarter choice and we could actually prevent some fires from starting.
A 2014 study in Massachusetts revealed that residential fires fell by 30 percent when state laws started to require “fire-safe cigarettes”. This is proof that offering safer alternatives to smokers can be effective at reducing fire risk. If ecigs don’t pose a fire hazard, then why is the National Park Service banning them?