Tobacco & the Environment
Tobacco growing is causing “massive harm” to the environment.
– World Health Organization
The tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process – through the use of chemicals, energy and water, and pollution from manufacturing and distribution.
- the use of fossil fuels; and
- dumping or leaking of waste products into the natural environment.
Tobacco plants require large quantities of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and fumigants to control pest or disease outbreaks. Many of these chemicals are so harmful to both the environment and health of the farmers growing the plant, that they are banned in some countries.
Vast quantities of wood are burned to cure tobacco leaves, contributing to deforestation. Some big growers like China and Zimbabwe are also using coal, which emits carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
Millions of kilograms of non-biodegradable cigarette butts are discarded every year!
Tobacco waste contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens.
Cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded waste product in the world.
According to Zero Waste Canada, Observational studies and self-reports by smokers suggest that from one to two-thirds of the butts from smoked cigarettes are tossed by smokers into the surrounding environment, buried in landfills, or dumped into storm drains.
In 2015, 409,417 cigarette butts were picked up in The Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up, cigarette butts topped the list of items
in the litter collected. According to the Litter Reduction Taskforce Cure Litter Canadians drop 8,000 tonnes of cigarette butts each year — the majority within a mere 10 feet of an ashtray.
- Can take up to 10-15 years to biodegrade, sometimes even longer!
- Butts washed from streets go into storm drains, rivers, and oceans.
- Cigarettes are the most prevalent item collected in beach clean-up
- They harm animals, especially aquatic creatures that come into contact with the cigarette litter in the water in which they live. Some birds and animals ingest the butts, thinking that it is food.
- Remember that they’re are thousands of chemicals in cigarettes and 43 known cancer-causing agents… So try to imagine all these harmful chemicals being littered everywhere, how harmful that is to our environment!