Environmental Damage: Smokers, Is It Really Just about You?

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Environmental Damage: Smokers, Is It Really Just about You?

So you know what smoking does to your body, but you’re not bothered because it’s just your body and your choice, right? Wrong. Smoking damages far more than just your body and the bodies of those around you, suffering from your second-hand smoke. It actually has a huge effect on the global environment, which means that when you smoke more than 7 billion other people on the planet can be affected as well. Here is how.

Growing tobacco is actually an exhausting effort for the environment itself.  Compared to other crops, tobacco plants need six times more potassium from the soil.

Also, in some undeveloped countries, around 200,000 hectares of forests are cut down and burned every year, to be replaced by tobacco farms. Tobacco farmers have to constantly abandon old farms and seek new land as tobacco farming ruins the natural state of the soil, meaning more and more forests are destroyed. The loss of the trees does not only mean the loss of a green area, but also means there are 22 million more net tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, since those forests would have removed this from the atmosphere and converted it to oxygen had they been there.

Manufacturing tobacco products is also a major cause of pollution. According to WHO‘s figure in 1995, an astonishing “2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste” are produced globally in the process. That figure is likely to be much more now after 18 years of development. In addition, do you know how much paper is used in wrapping and packaging cigarettes? Four miles per hour!

More importantly, the litter smokers produce is huge. It is said that cigarettes are the number one most littered item worldwide!  A survey called the Keep America Beautiful Pocket Ashtray Study carried out in 2008 found that 35% of smokers litter five or more cigarette butts per pack on the ground. According to the figure released during the 14th World Conference on Tobacco, more than 1.3 billion people are smokers. This means over 6.5 billion cigarette butts are thrown to the floor for each cigarette pack the global population of smokers consume. If you want to dig into it more, here is a report on the Litter Behaviour in America, which shows you the results of a national study. It is not surprising that tobacco products contribute over 32% of all litter.

The litter smokers create does not only make cities look dirty and ugly, but it also harms local waterways and wildlife. A significant proportion of tobacco litter goes into the sea eventually, damaging the marine environment. Cigarette butts continue to harm the environment underwater because often marine wildlife will accidentally eat the smoker’s debris, which has a detrimental effect on their health – and then we consume that toxin-filled fish, whether we’re smokers or not.

Last but not least, plenty of cigarettes are not biodegradable (a common misconception, since many smokers think they’re just made from plants) and as a result, they release approximately 600 chemicals into the environment, which affects not only the soil but our health too when we eat crops grown in that ground. So it is really not just your body that is being harmed by smoking, it is the people around you, the global population and the earth we live in, which is suffering with you.

Next time you reach for a cigarette, do think twice. Please.


Estelle Page is a UK-based interior designer with a passion for all things green. From growing her own herbs and vegetables to incorporating sustainable, eco-friendly materials into her designs for clients, she tries to lead an environmentally-friendly life without compromising on comfort or style.

  • MareCadTITANIC

    Of for Pete’s sake give this lie a rest. There is NO proof!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.gkbcinc.com/ Estelle Page

      I think the stats in this article are pretty clear – smoking isn’t the worst thing to ever happen to our environment, but it certainly isn’t a good thing either.

  • disqus_hGYFapCd94

    what nonsense

  • harleyrider1989

    Another Anti-Smoking Hoax Debunked. Those cigarette filters are 100% biodegradable.

    The cigarette butt menace was created to support outdoor smoking bans because many non-smokers will accept that secondhand smoke is not harmful in an outdoor setting.

    The anti-smoking zealots admit that the tobacco and paper in cigarette butts are biodegradable, but claim that the cellulose acetate cigarette filters are a plastic, like styrofoam and polystyrene, and will contaminate the earth forever. This is not true. Cellulose acetate is a wood product. It is completely degradable through biological, chemical, and photo chemical degradation mechanisms.

    Sorry, I don’t have a nice, easy to read MSM news article to give you. I have research papers from cellulose acetate manufacturers. Ann W., a commentor to a Dick Puddlecote article, put me onto this.
    “STUDY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION OF CIGARETTE FILTERS: A simulation of the Roadside or Parking Lot Environment.” Stephen K. Haynes, et al,., Research Laboratories, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport Tenn.

    “In recent years there has been increasing public awareness of items which may be discarded as litter with particular attention being given to cigarette filters. Some studies have concluded that when cigarette filters are introduced into the environment, they either do not degrade or degrade very slowly. Previous work in our laboratories has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes occurring in cigarette filters over time in an environment similar to that of a parking lot or roadside area. In this environment, exposure to sunlight, moisture and wind occur, but there is limited exposure to microbial attack … ”

    “CONCLUSIONS: Previous work has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. This work demonstrates that current commercial cigarette filters also degrade when exposed to an environment which is not optimal for microbial biodegradation.”

  • harleyrider1989

    This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

    Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

    By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

    Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

    What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

    “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study………………………

    Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

    The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

    Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.

    146,000 CIGARETTES SMOKED IN 20 YEARS AT 1 PACK A DAY.

    A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

    Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

  • harleyrider1989

    Last but not least, plenty of cigarettes are not biodegradable (a common misconception, since many smokers think they’re just made from plants) and as a result, they release approximately 600 chemicals into the environment, which affects not only the soil but our health too when we eat crops grown in that ground. So it is really not just your body that is being harmed by smoking, it is the people around you, the global population and the earth we live in, which is suffering with you.

    Tobacco Stems And Stalks Are Valuable Fertilizers . – Google News

    Similar

    be used to good advantage by the American grower of tobacco as fertilizer. Soil fertilized by these stems secured from the cigars and tobacco factories and …

    • http://www.gkbcinc.com/ Estelle Page

      “Tobacco Stems And Stalks Are Valuable Fertilizers”

      The plant itself is a natural thing and not bad for the environment – it’s the 600 or so chemicals in a cigarette that are the problem when the leech into the ground from all the half-smoked cigarettes that get thrown onto the floor.

      • harleyrider1989

        Estelle it doesn’t matter if its plant form or manufactured form cigs are made of all natural products even the filters!

        Another Anti-Smoking Hoax Debunked. Those cigarette filters are 100% biodegradable.

        The cigarette butt menace was created to support outdoor smoking bans because many non-smokers will accept that secondhand smoke is not harmful in an outdoor setting.

        The anti-smoking zealots admit that the tobacco and paper in cigarette butts are biodegradable, but claim that the cellulose acetate cigarette filters are a plastic, like styrofoam and polystyrene, and will contaminate the earth forever. This is not true. Cellulose acetate is a wood product. It is completely degradable through biological, chemical, and photo chemical degradation mechanisms.

        Sorry, I don’t have a nice, easy to read MSM news article to give you. I have research papers from cellulose acetate manufacturers. Ann W., a commentor to a Dick Puddlecote article, put me onto this.

        “STUDY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION OF CIGARETTE FILTERS: A simulation of the Roadside or Parking Lot Environment.” Stephen K. Haynes, et al,., Research Laboratories, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport Tenn.

        “In recent years there has been increasing public awareness of items which may be discarded as litter with particular attention being given to cigarette filters. Some studies have concluded that when cigarette filters are introduced into the environment, they either do not degrade or degrade very slowly. Previous work in our laboratories has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes occurring in cigarette filters over time in an environment similar to that of a parking lot or roadside area. In this environment, exposure to sunlight, moisture and wind occur, but there is limited exposure to microbial attack … ”

        “CONCLUSIONS: Previous work has demonstrated that cigarette filters biodegrade readily in environments where mixed microbial populations can thrive. This work demonstrates that current commercial cigarette filters also degrade when exposed to an environment which is not optimal for microbial biodegradation.”