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World No Tobacco Day: Environmental damages caused by smoking

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

The United Nations every year marks the World No Tobacco Day, which main objective is to raise awareness about the harms of the use of tobacco and the negative health effects of exposure to passive smoking.

India is among the top 10 tobacco-producing nations of the world, along with the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, China and Pakistan.

China has the highest number of smokers globally — approximately 300 million.

For this year, the theme for World No Tobacco Day is ‘Protect the environment.’

This year’s theme also highlights how people often disregard tobacco’s severe environmental effect, one of the effect is that discarded cigarette butts contribute to plastic pollution.

Researchers at the World Health Organization found out that cigarette smoking releases 84,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Tobacco smoke emits three different kinds of greenhouse gases.

This year, the World No Tobacco Day campaign calls on policymakers to make tobacco producers (industries) accountable for environmental damage due to tobacco product waste.

According to several studies, active smoking cuts about 13 years from your life expectancy. The number is even higher for people with comorbidities, the World Health Organisation stated in a press release.

According to some studies, tobacco is the “leading cause of preventable death globally.” Not to forget, smoking also affects the fertility of an individual and leads to multiple respiratory diseases.

Across the globe around 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed to grow tobacco each year. Growing tobacco also contributes to the deforestation of 200 000 hectares a year and soil degradation.
Tobacco production depletes the planet of water, fossil fuel and metal resources.
Globalization of the tobacco supply chain and sales means the tobacco industry relies heavily on resource-intensive modes of transport.
4.5 trillion cigarette butts are not disposed of properly every year across the globe, generating 1.69 billion pounds of toxic waste and releasing thousands of chemicals into the air, water and soil.

The WNTD 2022 campaign calls on governments and policy-makers to step up legislation, including implementing and strengthening existing schemes to make producers responsible for the environmental and economic costs of dealing with tobacco waste products.

WHO also recommends that countries fully ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including advertising CSR programmes, in accordance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

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