The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a report released on Tuesday (31) that smoking not only kills people, but also seriously affects the environment.
The report “Tobacco: Poisoning Our Planet”, published in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, says that smoking kills 8 million people every year.
He adds that tobacco production and consumption leads to the loss of about 600 million trees, 200,000 hectares of land and 22 billion tons of water each year.
Tobacco use and production also contribute significantly to global greenhouse gases, emitting about 84 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
The report warns that “the carbon footprint of the tobacco production, processing and transportation industry is equivalent to one-fifth of the carbon dioxide produced by the commercial airline industry each year, further contributing to global warming.”
About 4.5 trillion cigarette filters – which contain non-biodegradable microplastic particles – end up in oceans, rivers and beaches every year, said Rüdiger Krech, director of health promotion at the World Health Organization.
Tobacco products are highly contaminated, Krrish said, adding that they contain more than 7,000 toxic chemicals that “leak into our environment when disposed of.”
He also says the cost of cleaning up discarded tobacco products always falls to the taxpayer and urges the tobacco industry to do more. Germany, for example, pays 186 million euros for the disposal of tobacco waste.
The report urged lawmakers to consider banning cigarette filters because of their harmful environmental impact.
The World Health Organization is also drawing attention to the plight of tobacco farmers, who are exposed to harmful emissions at work throughout their lives. Crick said some farmers were poisoned by the nicotine they absorbed through their skin.
It is important, Crick concludes, that “the industry actually pays for the problem it creates”.
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