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Tobacco and the Environment

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 7 million people die from tobacco use and one in two children is a passive smoker. In case these data are not alarming, there are other reasons we should consider quitting tobacco.

As every year, on May 31, the WHO promotes World No Tobacco Day, and this time the theme is connected to the environment, with the slogan "Tobacco, a threat to our environment" this is in order to know a little more about the impact of the tobacco industry on our planet.

According to data shared by National Geographic magazine in Spanish in one of its digital publications, "Cigarette butts represent between 30% and 40% of the waste collected in urban and coastal cleaning activities. According to the Ocean Conservancy, throwing away a cigarette butt can contaminate up to 50 liters of drinking water since the filter retains most of the nicotine and tar in the cigarette."

As if this were not enough, "cigarette butts are made with a petroleum derivative called cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable material that can take about 10 years to decompose."

The tobacco industry manages to emit greenhouse gases annually up to a stratospheric amount of 84 million tons of carbon dioxide, gases that undoubtedly contribute to the deterioration of the ozone layer and climate changes that affect so much in different regions of the planet, in addition to accelerating the consumption of natural resources, specifically forests and jungles to replace them with tobacco plantations.

The smoke produced by smokers directly affects air quality, tobacco smoke in the environment is a human carcinogen responsible for approximately 3,000 annual lung cancer deaths in non-smokers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified tobacco smoke in the environment as a group A carcinogen in its guidelines on carcinogen assessment. Based on studies done on the human population, these compounds or mixtures classified here have been found to cause cancer in humans.

Pollution of the environment and the deterioration of ecosystems due to tobacco production. "Every year, some 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed to grow tobacco on it. This crop favors deforestation, especially in developing countries. The elimination of forest spaces to implement tobacco plantations deteriorates the soils and reduces the cultivation areas, that is, the ability of the land to sustain the growth of any other crop or plant."

The difficult task of protecting natural resources occurs in a constant struggle between big corporations and public policy makers because of the large economic implications. While it is true that companies are helping social causes to sell themselves as socially responsible and sustainable companies, the problems they have are more than the benefits they could find, especially when it comes to developing nations.

The health problems connected with tobacco use are very noticeable in advanced stages and generate large costs in public finances to address problems such as cancer and chronic lung diseases.





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