A threat to us & the environment

By A. Jafri
Tue, 05, 22

Throughout its lifecycle, tobacco pollutes theenvironment & damages the health of all people. World No Tobacco Day, observed annually on 31st May, spreads awareness about the dangers of tobacco.You! takes a look…

A threat to us & the environment

no tobacco day

Most of us are well-aware of how smoking is injurious to a person’s health and the ones around them. However, what many don’t realise is a lot of the environment is being impacted as well. Cigarette smoking causes environmental pollution by releasing toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere. The cigarette butts also litter the environment and the toxic chemicals in the residues seep into soils and waterways, thereby causing soil and water pollution, respectively. Animals and plants that come into contact or absorb the toxic substances from the cigarette residues are affected as well.

The harmful impact of the tobacco industry on the environment is vast and growing adding unnecessary pressure to our planet’s already scarce resources and fragile ecosystems.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), around 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed for tobacco growing every year. Growing tobacco contributes to deforestation, especially in the developing world (where 90 per cent of all tobacco production takes place). Deforestation for tobacco plantations promotes soil degradation and ‘failing yields’ or the capacity for the land to support the growth of any other crops or vegetation. So, for every cigarette you smoke, you are literally burning resources where they are already scarce, burning resources where our very existence depends upon.

Furthermore, tobacco kills over 8 million people every year alongside destroying our environment and further harming human health – through the cultivation, production, distribution, consumption, and post consumer waste. According to estimates, 600,000,000 trees chopped down to make cigarettes, 84,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions released into the air raising global temperatures and 22,000,000,000 litres of water used to make cigarettes.

A threat to us & the environment

World No Tobacco Day is an initiative by the WHO and is observed on May 31st every year. The campaign aims to spread awareness about the dangers of tobacco and its negative impact on health, as well as the exploitation of the nicotine industry that is geared towards the youth in particular. It also aims to reduce the diseases and deaths caused by tobacco consumption.

When it comes to human health, smoking isn’t just hazardous for the smoker but also for the people around them who are compelled to inhale that smoke passively.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, people exposed to secondhand smoke are at the risk of stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.

Specifically for women who smoke, they have an increased risk of infertility and spontaneous abortion. Complications caused by smoking during pregnancy include pre-term delivery, increased risk of stillbirth, lower birth weight, and decreased lung function in the developing child.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health. This is true regardless of their age or how long they have been smoking. While quitting earlier in life yields greater health benefits, quitting smoking is beneficial to health at any age. Even people who have smoked for many years or have smoked heavily will benefit from quitting. Quitting smoking is the single best way to protect family members, coworkers, friends, and others from the health risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke. Secondly, when the demand for tobacco decreases, this will also have a positive impact on the environment.

A common excuse among smokers is that smoking has already caused them a lot of damage so there is no point in quitting now and that the damage cannot be reversed. That’s not true! There are many things that happen after you smoke your last cigarette:

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature will return to its normal values.
  • Within 24 hours, your risk for having a heart attack begins to decrease.
  • Within 2 days, your sense of smell and taste will begin to return. Food will taste and smell like it should.
  • Within 3 days, your body rids itself from most of the nicotine.
  • Within 3 weeks, both your body and brain will no longer be dependent on nicotine.
  • Within 3 months, your blood circulation and lung function would significantly improve.
  • Within a year, you will have a large reduction in risk for both heart diseases and cancers.
  • Within 15 years, your health risks are similar to those of a non-tobacco user.

So, it’s never too late to quit today!