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!
Multiple Authors including coalition staff, board members, and coalition members contribute to this page.