Environmental Impact of Tobacco Cigarettes
The effects of tobacco cigarettes aren't just limited to the human body. Tobacco cigarettes also have an effect on the world we live in. From air pollution to large amounts of trash and the direct effect on forests and trees, smoking tobacco cigarettes is just as hazardous to the environment's health as it is to human health. Here are three examples of the environmental impact of tobacco cigarettes on the plant Earth.
A Lifetime of Litter
It is estimated that of the 5.6 trillion cigarettes produced in a year, that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered across the globe every year. That's over 80% of the world's cigarette production! Due to the plastic filter that is used in cigarette butts, they are not easily bio-degradable. Cigarette butts only begin to slowly degrade after sitting around for 25 years.
Littered cigarette butts not only cause a concern for the environment because of the lack of bio-degradable material but carelessly tossed cigarette butts can cause a health risk to children. In a study conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health, over 40 cases of children between the ages of 6 to 24 months consumed a cigarette butt that was not properly disposed of. Many times those tobacco cigarette butts were over a week old. Imagine what the child's body went through consuming those toxic materials.
Tobacco cigarettes emit over 4,000 chemicals into the air, many of which are toxic to the environment. The smoke that comes from tobacco cigarettes can cause direct damage to surrounding plants and tree life by depleting the oxygen supply. The most well known toxic chemical that is emitted into the air is nitric oxide. Nitric oxide comes from some of the toxins within tobacco cigarettes and is responsible for the smog clouds that hang around large cities as well as the depletion of layers of the ozone. While tobacco smoke is not completely responsible for these toxic conditions, cigarette smoke does play a huge factor.
In a recent study conducted by Italian scientists, the level of toxins produced by tobacco cigarettes is ten times higher than the level of toxins produced by cars, trucks and factories that burn diesel fuel. Imagine the destruction that is caused by this powerful toxic air on the human body and the environment.
Secondhand smoke is another form of air pollution that is a result of tobacco cigarettes. According to medical studies, secondhand tobacco smoke can be even more toxic to the human body than directly smoking the tobacco cigarettes. By definition, secondhand smoke is a form of air pollution due to the harmful chemicals and discomfort it causes the air that others breath.
Forest and Wildlife Impact
Beyond the environmental issues of litter and air pollution, tobacco cigarettes have a direct environmental impact on the surrounding forest and wooded areas. Over 600 million trees are required to make the number of wrappers needed to keep up with the demand of cigarette production. These trees are being knocked down at a rapid rate and they are not being replaced, leaving a huge impact on the surrounding environment.
The plants required to make tobacco cigarettes are very susceptible to insects and bugs. Those that are responsible for the growth of the plants constantly spray pesticides, chemicals and toxins to get rid of these bugs. Chemicals such as DDT, Aldrin and Methyl bromide are regularly used in the chemical sprays and are responsible for the destruction of the ozone, end up in the water supply humans and animals drink and can potentially kill the surrounding plants and animals.
Another concern over the use of tobacco cigarettes is that of the potential ability a lit cigarette or discarded cigarette butt has to start a wildlife. Over 75% of the forest fires around the world are directly traced back to some form of tobacco cigarettes. Forest fires can cause million dollars worth of damage to wildlife, surrounding homes and the forest area.
There are a mydrid amount of environmental concerns that are a direct result of the chemicals found in the smoke of tobacco cigarettes.