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Understanding the effects smoking has on the air, and how switching to e-cigarettes can help

When you think of pollution, you typically think of smog and car emissions, but it's a known fact that tobacco cigarettes can lead to air pollution as well. This type of air pollution comes from two places: breathed out through the nose and mouth of a smoker and from the actual burning cigarette. Any secondhand expulsions from the burning of tobacco can affect a wide range of adverse health problems including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.

These health problems are a direct result of secondhand smoke's 4,000-plus chemicals—200 of which are considered poison with nearly 70 capable of causing cancer and other diseases. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified tobacco smoke pollution as a Group A carcinogen. Moreover, the EPA estimates secondhand smoke causes roughly 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths in nonsmokers every year (NOTE: These numbers do not take into consideration the number of people who are inflicted with cancers/diseases and survive).

Tobacco cigarette air pollution generates from the chemical process of burning organic material (i.e. the combustion of tobacco and paper). All combustion processes (even those involving the burning of wood) emit thousands of pollutants. However, it is the chemicals derived from burning tobacco that lead to health problems.

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Young children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke pollution. According to the EPA between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections occur in infants and children under 18 months as a result of secondhand smoke each year—of these, between 7,500 and 15,000 result in hospitalization.

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Italian study finds cigarettes more pollutant than a diesel car exhaust

An Italian research group performed a research study in 2004 to measure what caused more air pollution: cigarettes or diesel exhaust. They discovered that 3 lit cigarettes can cause more air pollution than a diesel car's exhaust. These scientists calculated this by measuring the output particles of both pollutants.

The researchers started the vehicle and then let idle for 30 minutes in an enclosed garage. They then reset the conditions (airing out the garage for a full 4 hours). For the cigarettes, the scientists lit three cigarettes in succession and let them smolder for the same length the vehicle ran.

They measured air pollution levels in several ways, including: every two minutes during the tests and for an additional 90 minutes after the engine was turned off—the same procedures were followed for the cigarettes that burned out. The end result was that the 3 cigarettes produced about 10 times as much particulate matter as the vehicle.

How electric cigarettes can help clear the air

Electric cigarettes do not release secondhand smoke chemicals into our atmosphere.  They instead release nicotine gas, water, and propylene glycol (PG)—byproducts of the vaporizing of liquid nicotine. Arguments in the anti-electric cigarette community cite that production factories are just as or more harmful than secondhand tobacco smoke. However, this has yet to be substantiated.

E-cigarettes (even with the vapor released during use) are infinitely less pollutant than tobacco cigarettes simply for the fact that there is no combustion taking place. Therefore, no combustion equals no pollution.

We encourage you to use the SouthBeach knowledge center as a resource for teaching others about what electric cigarettes are and how they work, as well as learning more about how to get the most from your e-smoking experience.

In addition to offering starter kits and other accessories from our main website, you can browse our blog and to learn more about the world of e-smoking and electric cigarettes.