Public Health England each October run a Stoptober campaign to encourage people to quit smoking. Obviously stopping smoking is good for your health but it is also really good for the environment.
Tobacco as a plant needs a lot of assistance to be successfully harvested. Tobacco farming is one of the largest users of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides globally. Because many of the countries that grow tobacco have poor health and safety standards this has a direct effect on the health of the workers, some of them children. It also has an effect on the environment; polluting water courses and ground water, killing wildlife and even depleting ozone. Growing tobacco also takes nutrients from the soil and can require large amounts of water.
The high demand for tobacco puts pressure on the land too. Five percent of global deforestation is due to tobacco farming and curing. Deforestation has many environmental effects – reduced oxygen production, reduced carbon dioxide uptake, increased carbon dioxide release from the ground, increased risk of flooding, soil erosion, reduced water uptake in the soil and loss of the biodiversity that lived in the forest. Critically, with a rising population, the land used to grow tobacco is not available for growing food.
The manufacture of cigarettes uses a lot of energy. It has been estimated that the carbon emissions of cigarette manufacture in the USA is equivalent to four million vehicles annually.
The paper also is sourced from trees and uses substantial quantities of both water and chemicals. The cigarette making process creates solid and chemical waste which must be treated and incinerated.
Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and are the number one litter item found on beaches, the chemicals in them are also toxic to wildlife. The packaging and matches also pose a pollution problem as a component of litter. Lighters too have an environmental impact due to their manufacture and the fact that they need fossil fuel based gas.
Then there is the habit itself. In the UK it is now illegal to smoke inside public places. The consequence of this is that many smokers must now retreat outdoors for a puff. Outside a pub they can often be made more comfortable in the winter with patio or infrared heaters, with the environmental impact of burning large quantities of gas or using electricity.
If you would like to know more about the environmental impact of any of the products you produce or use, our experts are on hand to give you friendly, practical advice. Call us on 01746 552423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org