The negative impact that cigarettes have on the human body is no secret, but the destructive effect they have on the environment is often overlooked. Most smokers believe that they are only damaging their own health, but remain completely oblivious to the impacts cigarettes relay on to their loved ones. Cigarettes severely damage the environment through air, water, and land pollution, while also have a harmful impact on deforestation and climate change.
While air pollution is notably the most apparent cause of environmental damage, not many people realize the true extent. There are around 4000 chemicals found in cigarettes, which are exhaled and released into the atmosphere. With over 30% of the North American population identified as smokers, and an even greater percentage of smokers in developing countries, there is a massive amount of air pollution being released into the atmosphere every day.
In addition to the air pollution, cigarettes play a major role in tainting land and water. Millions of cigarette butts – which take around 25-26 years to decompose – are left on the ground every day. Consequently, these butts often find their way into lakes and rivers where fish and other aquatic animals misconceive the butts for food and fatally consume them. Cigarette butts are not the only thing harmful to living organism, the filters are also toxic to aquatic life and the chemicals and additives from these filters leach into the soil and kill plants. With cigarette filters being the most abundant trash item collected on beach pick ups, this can have vast impacts on the ecosystem. Carelessness with cigarette butts can also lead to major fires which can damage wildlife and the environment. In the USA, cigarette smoking is the first or second leading cause of fire-related deaths each year. Fire and burns from cigarettes is annually among the 10 leading college of death in the United States.
The most harmful aspect of cigarettes on the environment actually comes from the production facet. The tobacco plants also must be sprayed with various chemicals and pesticides to prevent being eaten by pests. These pesticides can run off into nearby rivers and create environmental health problems and damage the ecosystem. The land that is used to grow the tobacco plants could be utilized for many different productive uses such as producing food or providing homes for people. Tobacco crops also deplete the soil of important nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus which in turn cause the tobacco crop to be relocated annually often leading to deforestation. Beyond the tobacco crop, four miles of paper are used in one hour in the cigarette industry to roll and package cigarettes. One tree alone only accounts for approximately 300 cigarettes, and with the mass amount of cigarettes being produced in the cigarette industry this can cause a huge strain on the environment. The deforestation of trees required to meet the demands of this industry allow for more CO2 in the atmosphere and impact climate change.
Not only do cigarette pose a treacherous threat to our health and loved ones, but it also plays a pivotal impact on the environment. Cigarettes are perceived by many to be more dangerous than marijuana and even alcohol, but marijuana is illegal with less known negative effects than cigarettes. In my opinion, this speaks more to the influence multi-billion dollar cigarette industry has and their ability to disregard the devastating affects cigarettes have on human health and the environment. Do you believe the government would ever step in to regulate this industry in anyway? How many people, along with aquatic wildlife, a have to die for a change to be made? What is your opinion on how we could negate the impact of the cigarette industry, if you even believe it to be necessary? What possible negative evidence could finally cause people to say enough is enough with cigarettes and its industry?