“Tobacco, one of the biggest pollutants we know”

A new reason to quit smoking on the day of quitting smoking. Besides its impact on public health, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday, May 31, that the tobacco industry is also the cause of significant environmental damage, among the mountains of pollution and emissions that contribute to climate change.

Tobacco industry “One of the biggest polluters that we know of”He explained to AFP, the Director of the World Health Organization for health promotion, Rudiger Krech, to report on the results. “Very disastrous”. The document is titled Tobacco is poison for our planet.takes a look at the ecological footprint of the sector as a whole, from growing plants to manufacturing tobacco products, including consumption and waste.

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While the industry is responsible for the loss of 600 million trees, tobacco growing uses 200,000 hectares of land and 22 billion tons of water each year, and emits about 84 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the report.

“Tobacco products, which are the most common garbage disposal on the planet, contain more than 7,000 chemical compounds that, once disposed of, disperse into the environment.”, continues Rudiger Krech. He notes that each of the 4.5 trillion cigarette butts that end up in nature each year can contaminate up to 100 liters of water.

nicotine-infected farmers

The health risks of tobacco are not limited to consumption and waste: Roughly a quarter of tobacco growers suffer from green tobacco disease, a form of transdermal nicotine poisoning.

Rudiger Krech, who notes that this sector employs a large number of children, explains that, in constant contact with tobacco leaves, these farmers consume the equivalent of nicotine in 50 cigarettes per day. “Just imagine: a 12-year-old is exposed to 50 cigarettes a day”Concludes.

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According to the report, tobacco is often grown in rather poor countries, where water and cultivated land are often scarce, and where these crops replace crucial food production.

Tobacco cultivation is also responsible for about 5% of deforestation worldwide, and contributes to the depletion of precious water reserves. A large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions also come from the processing and transportation of tobacco – equivalent to one-fifth of the carbon footprint of air travel.

plastic pollution

The World Health Organization also warns of tobacco-derived products – cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes – that contribute significantly to the world’s plastic pollution buildup.

Cigarette filters contain traces of microplastics, those tiny fragments found in oceans around the world, including the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest – making it the world’s second largest source of plastic pollution. Contrary to what the tobacco industry claims, there is no evidence that these filters have a beneficial effect on health, as confirms the World Health Organization. The UN agency is urging policy makers around the world to treat these filters as single-use plastics, and to consider banning them.

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It also regrets that the high costs of cleaning up tobacco industry waste are borne by taxpayers around the world. According to the report, China spends about $2.6 billion annually to process waste from tobacco products. For India, the bill is $766 million, while Brazil and Germany have to pay $200 million each.

So the WHO insists that more countries follow France and Spain’s lead by adopting the polluter pays principle. For Rüdiger Krech, this is important The industry is already paying for the damage it causes. »

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