At a time when everyone’s mantra is to “go green,” it is no surprise to see the e-cigarette industry’s marketing machine clamor to announce that its products are environmentally conscious and much better for an individual’s health and the environment than conventional cigarette products.
First, most e-cigs companies point to the fact that since their products do not produce any smoke but only emit a vapor, it is less polluting than conventional tobacco products. For instance, Green Smoke says it "aspires to create a greener planet" by offering a cigarette that has no second-hand smoke, no ash and no risk of fire.” SouthBeach Smoke also equates the healthier, i.e. no carcinogens and no smoke aspect of e-cigs to being a more eco-friendly product.
To promote the image of being an earth-friendly product, e-cigarettes are appropriately branded with subliminal brand names such as Green Smoke, Eco-Cigs, Ever Smoke, EverGreen Vapor, Enviro, and Green Nicotine. Many of the ads for these products also use terms such as “additive-free,” “organic” and “eco-friendly” to imply that the ingredients are “pure” and not harmful to the individual or the environment. For instance, Green Nicotine e-cig manufacturer’s claim to being environmentally friendly comes from the fact that its manufacturing processes uses green techniques by restricting the use of “hazardous materials” and incorporating “pure” materials. However, it is important to note that since e-cigs are unregulated, there is no standard definition of the purity of nicotine or flavoring ingredients used in these products.
To further suggest, the green nature of the product, the packaging is plastered with green leaf symbols and shades of green predominate the advertisement and e-cig package. In a Green Smoke advertisement, a woman with apple green colored lips is seen holding an e-cigarette near her lips. The ad seems to suggest that the e-cig is as safe as a lipstick for a woman. In another ad for Green Smoke, a man is seen enjoying the freshness and pure air of a mountaintop with an e-cig between his lips. The text of the advertisement reads, “Enjoy your nicotine. No Lighter. No Fire. No Mess.” An advertisement for EverSmoke that showcases the company’s diverse products has the following text, “Healthy for You. Green for the Environment.” A Green Nicotine advertisement shows a single e-cig against the backdrop of a lush green moss lawn.
E-cig companies are also eager to make the point that since its products are mostly reusable they aren’t thrown away like traditional cigarette butts that pile up in landfills and pollute the environment. However, the eco-friendly nature of e-cigs warrants a closer investigation. E-cigs contain several plastic and metal components that need to be properly disposed. In addition to this, the nickel-cadmium or lithium batteries used in e-cigs need to be properly disposed in e-waste recycling bin instead of the general trash. While some e-cig manufacturers offer “recycling programs” to promote proper disposal of e-waste, it is unclear how many consumers take the time to invest in such programs. When e-cigs don’t get properly disposed they are as much a pollutant as traditional cigarettes.