Will a Vaping Ban Really Prevent Fires in National Parks?
Last month, the National Park Service announced that vaping is now banned in all areas of parks where smoking is already prohibited. This has caused quite a stir of controversy as people are asking why officials consider vaping to be a fire risk. After all, these devices have no flame, no ash, and no cigarettes butts to leave lying around. They are battery operated just like dozens of other electronic devices that are permitted in National Parks, so why is there a sudden attack on vaping?
No one will deny that forest fires are a problem. Each year, these fires cause around $700 million in damage and we spend over a billion dollars trying to suppress the blazes. People cause around 90 percent of wildfires and most can be linked to cigarettes. It only takes one little spark and wildfires can start and soon rage out of control. So we can all agree that it makes sense to ban cigarettes in National Parks. But why ban vaping?
If the National Park Service is going to declare that battery-operated vaping devices are a fire hazard, then they also need to outlaw smartphones, cameras, electronic readers, and iPods. So far, there is no mention of other battery-operated gadgets being prohibited even in high risk areas.
In reality, allowing smokers to bring in vaping devices could reduce the fire risk substantially. If smokers were allowed to vape, they might be less tempted to sneak a cigarette and therefore, some of these tragic fires could possibly be prevented. One study in Massachusetts showed that when states require “fire-safe” cigarettes, the number of residential fires fell by 30 percent. It’s obvious that offering alternatives can be effective in reducing the fire risk so why is the Park Service banning vaping instead of giving it a chance?