When we think about Earth Day, we think of conserving water, recycling, and maybe even carpooling, but what about tobacco use? Tobacco production and use affects the world in more ways that you would think; it contributes to so much of our waste, air pollution, occurrences of uncontrolled fires, and production that is just overall so harmful to our environment.
The packaging and labeling of tobacco products is resource-intensive in terms of the paper, plastic and chemicals that manufacturers use. Millions of tons of packaging waste, much of it plastic, ends up as litter or helps to overwhelm landfills around the world. Similarly, the disposal of cigarette waste after consumption causes harm to the environment. In beach clean-up efforts around the world, cigarette butts are the largest contributor to littering world-wide.
Also, the production of tobacco and tobacco products causes widespread environmental degradation around the world. It begins with the preparation of land for tobacco cultivation and carries through the life of these products as they are manufactured, marketed and consumed. And it is not uncommon for tobacco farmers clear the forest by burning it; often, this land is agriculturally marginal and after only a few seasons, the land is abandoned, contributing in many cases to desertification. Not only does burning generate vast amounts of air and land, water and air pollutants, much of this land is cleared from carbon dioxide-absorbing forest cover. As a result, tobacco cultivation is exacerbating greenhouse gas levels.
Lastly, the fires caused by cigarettes do tremendous damage to the environment, beyond their costs in terms of lives lost and direct economic loss. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of both house and forest fires throughout the world. In both the USA and the United Kingdom, cigarettes are the single greatest cause of fire-related deaths, and are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in fire-related
Tobacco use affects our environment in an extremely significant way, and Earth Day is the perfect time to highlight these Earth-changing truths!
This month is National Stress Month! That seems appropriate with all of the stressful things going on in the world, right? And I wanted to talk about how this relates to increased amounts of tobacco consumption because, well, that's my job!
A common trigger for tobacco users is the feeling of stress, because tobacco seems to be an effective coping mechanism for the individuals who use it. What a lot of people don't know is that tobacco is actually a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up your body's functioning, making you feel more anxious and overwhelmed that before. Stimulants also raise your heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure, which can contribute to the feeling of stress that you are having.
So what's the solution? We can talk about the obvious solution of quitting all day long, and if that is what you are thinking about, then you should definitely call 1-800-QUITNOW. But if that's not the route that you were hoping to take, then I have a few alternative ways to deal with stress that might be effective for you.
And the number one recommendation is to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Let's try our best to productively manage our stress!
As you may know, tomorrow is National Pet Day! And I know that you do not need me to tell you about the harmful affects that smoking can have on your own health, or even the harmful affects that second-hand smoking can have on the individuals that you live with, but it is rare that we have the opportunity to talk about the affect that tobacco use can have on the animals that live in your home.
Because our pets share our environments, they also share our environmental exposures. Second-hand smoke does affect the health of the animals that are living in the home of a smoker. Dogs living in homes with smokers have significantly higher levels of cotinine (a breakdown product of nicotine) in their blood, indicating exposure to secondhand smoke. Dogs were also more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer if a smoker lived in the home. Also, cats that live in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (a type of cancer) compared to cats in nonsmoking households.
Smoking outside the home reduces the concentration of environmental tobacco smoke in the house, but doesn’t eliminate it. A study found that environmental tobacco levels in homes of smokers who smoked outdoors were still five to seven times higher than in households of nonsmokers. And it’s not just the secondhand smoke that poses a risk for your pets: discarded cigarette butts or other tobacco products left within reach of pets can cause gastrointestinal problems or even nicotine toxicity if your pet finds and eats them.
If you choose to use cigarettes or e-cigarettes, please consider quitting not just for the sake of your own health, but for the health of your family and your pets. And if you choose to use these products, make sure to take extra precautions to keep your pets safe.
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As a community partner we support, advocate, and promote legal, state, and national efforts to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among youth and adults in Jay County, Indiana.
The Jay County Drug Prevention Coalition (JCDPC) is part of the statewide network of the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse. The JCDPC is the Local Coordinating Council (LCC) for the community.