It has been long known what are possible health implications of tobacco use, seeing that the World Health Organization has linked it to various deadly illnesses. It is calculated that tobacco is responsible for over 7 million deaths per year.
However, this is the first time that tobacco use has been linked to serious damages done to the environment. It seems that tobacco waste poisons the environment with more that 7,000 toxic chemicals which all pose a serious additional risk to human health.
WHO reported that the tobacco waste ends up literally everywhere and it proves to be a difficult challenge for those communities without adequate resources to remove it from the environment.
WHO also warns that it is not just the direct tobacco waste that causes damages but also the materials used in tobacco product packagings, such as paper, ink, foil, glue and many others. This waste also pollutes many aquatic environments in addition to streets and drains.
According to Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General, cigarettes not only pollute the air but that it’s damaging effects go beyond the air effects. All of the tobacco plants and factories are contributing to the environmental effects seeing that the industry uses fossil fuels, dumps, and leaks waste and deforests green areas for production.
WHO’s report points out that tobacco waste is the biggest individual litter type in the world. Anywhere between 10 billion and 15 billion tobacco products are sold each day and equally dumped into the environment. It was calculated that almost 40% of all litter collected in coastal and urban areas are actually cigarette butts.
Chestnov explained that the least used but the most effective measure for tobacco control is actually the increase in prices and taxes for tobacco products. There are a lot of measures that governments could do to minimize the smoking and waste impact of the tobacco industry. However, this raises an additional issue of compliance and governments willingness to stop advertising and sponsoring tobacco.
To further drive the point – a report made by the UN in January states that approximately 8 million lives can be saved yearly if the governments would implement effective tobacco policies.