Quit Smoking, the World is on Fire

By Olivia Adam

Health risks associated with smoking are generally known however the World Health Organisation’s campaign World No Tobacco Day – “Tobacco: Threat to our environment 2022 shows that the environmental effects are just as deadly.

(The remains of cigarettes contaminate and pollute soil and water. Photograph: Pixabay)

WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2022

The WHO have themed this year’s World No Tobacco Day campaign about the environmental impact of smoking. Their aim this year is to highlight the environmental and ethical impact of a cigarette throughout its lifetime; from its manufacturing, usage and disposal. It will also expose the tobacco industry’s “greenwashing” by their supposed support of environmental causes or treatment of tobacco farmers.

The campaign calls for stricter legislation and policies from governments which will hold tobacco manufacturers responsible for their damage to the environment and the economic toxic burden of cigarette wastage. 

Environmental Impact of Smoking

The WHO are also calling for cigarette filters to be deemed as single use plastics which will ban their use. This will significantly reduce harm to the environment as they are the second highest plastic pollutant in the world. 

Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at the WHO said, “The environmental impacts of tobacco using adds unnecessary pressure to our planet’s already scarce resources and fragile ecosystems. This is especially dangerous for developing countries, as that’s where most of the tobacco production happens.”

(Facts on how smoking impacts our environment. Photograph: Olivia Adam)

The WHO’s recent report “Tobacco: Poisoning our planet” shows that the carbon footprint from the tobacco industry producing and transporting cigarettes is the same as one fifth of the CO2 that commercial airlines cause annually.

Whether you are a smoker or not, cigarettes drain your bank account. As taxpayers, we pay for the clean-up of littered cigarettes. The WHO showed that this task costs China approximately US$ 2.6 billion and India US$ 766 million each year to correctly dispose of used cigarettes.

However, the people of countries such as France and Spain as well as American cities San-Fransisco have refused to take responsibility. By implementing the Polluter Pays Principle they have  “extended producer responsibility legislation” whereby the tobacco industry will bear the costs of cleaning the mess that their products have left behind.

What about E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes such as vapes and the JUUL have skyrocketed in the past decade with one-time use of e-cigarettes such as Puff Bars increasing by 1000 per cent amongst high school students between 2019 and 2020 according to Truth Initiative.

The main environmental concern is that manufacturers of e-cigarettes do not display how to dispose of the product safely once it has reached its end of life. So, most users resort to throwing them in the trash or worse still, on the ground. There are currently no policies requiring the e-cigarette industry to provide safe disposable guidelines which will have long term effects on the environment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s