As you may know – especially the The Flaming Vegan writers – I am quite the environmentalist and can link anything undesirable, such as smoking cigarettes, to environmental or social injustice. So, here goes: why are ciggies bad for the environment? Why are smokers not only ‘hurting themselves’, as the saying states? How does the damage caused reach beyond just those that might inhale their second-hand smoke?
For starters, any time you burn something – absolutely anything – you’re creating carbon monoxide. Therefore, you are contributing, albeit a small amount, to global warming. If we managed to make this nasty habit pretty much dissipate completely across the world, we would be helping with air pollution across the planet.
Also, don’t forget that cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals, which are added to the air pollution created by the act of burning it. There are approximately 30% of the North American populations who smoke, and the number is often higher in Third-World countries, which means each one of them is contributing to adding these chemicals in the air around the globe.
After, how many smokers actually throw away their butts in garbage bins and ashtrays religiously? I’m sure the number of those who don’t exceeds the good ones who are careful about where they throw them out. Rarely can we see a sidewalk, anywhere across the world, that doesn’t have at least a few of them lying on the side of the street or the sidewalk. Several are also left on the beach and by forest entrances, and they can be accidentally swallowed by wildlife. It takes about 25 years for them to fully disintegrate completely, and leach into the ground, contaminating the soil, plants and eventually, the water.
Then, we need to consider the impact of cigarette creation and manufacturing. Tobacco requires soil that is adequate for farming and it could be used to feed people instead of encouraging a harmful habit. These crops need fertilizers and pesticides, and they are typically sprayed with chemical versions and not the natural ones. Furthermore, the amount of wood needed – so trees being cut down – is at one tree per 300 cigarettes… the very trees we need to counter the damage caused by the product they helped create. Afterwards, we need to consider the amount of water and energy required – two resources we are already afraid of lacking anytime soon.
Trying to make the tobacco industry into an environmentally-friendly one is like speaking to a brick wall. They pretend it would be far too expensive; to tell you the truth, I am not against putting this extra charge on those who consume this dangerous product and try to make them reduce the amount they purchase, and eventually make them stop.
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