Are e-cigarettes actually eco?

June 21, 2012

I’ve never liked cigarettes. Never could stand the smell. The on-call obstetrician that delivered me into the world even tried to walk into the delivery room with a smoke dangling from his lips  and my father promptly made him put the damn thing out. (Go dad! This was 1970s Quebec, after all.) Still, I don’t nag my loved ones into quitting smoking. Look, nagging can’t convince anyone to quit anything, especially something this addictive. On the path to quitting (which I assume all smokers are on, short-term or long-term), are e-cigarettes – those smokeless nicotine-vapourizers that are often shaped like cigarettes – a greener, healthier choice? You’ll have to read this week’s Ecoholic column to find out!

If you’re going to venture down the road of trying to track some e-smokes online (since Health Canada is vehemently against them and doesn’t officially permit any for sale in this country), be aware that you might hate the nicotine liquid you end up with. Apparently, lots of e-cigs on the market really just taste like you’re sucking on chemicals. Maybe it’s the propylene glycol (which is most often a petrochemical) or the artificial flavours added. I won’t be recommending brands but just be sure to do your research if you choose to buy these and avoid brands that don’t clearly disclose their ingredients.

For some very interesting background info on the failures of quit-smoking campaigns and discussions on the prohibitionist stance being taken on e-cigs by some organizations/ governments (including Canada, though it’s not discussed in the piece) check out this article in the New York Times and this fascinating report in the Harm Reduction Journal.