09.10.19 Tobacco Isn’t Just Bad for You — It’s Devastating the Environment
Tobacco growing, production, marketing and consumption are devastating our environment. Tobacco cultivation causes deforestation and over-utilizes harmful chemicals. The waste from production— much of it toxic— and disposal of packaging and cigarette butts pollute our fragile ecosystems. The packaging and labeling of tobacco products is resource-intensive in terms of the paper, plastic and chemicals that manufacturers use. Millions of tons of packaging waste, much of it plastic, ends up as litter or helps to overwhelm landfills around the world. Similarly, the disposal of cigarette waste after consumption causes harm to the environment. In beach clean-up efforts around the world, cigarette butts comprise the largest component of the waste. The chemicals from a single cigarette butt release enough toxins to kill 50 percent of fish exposed to it for 96 hours. This study was done with one cigarette in one liter of water for 24 hours. A recent report by the United Nations Environmental Programme found that if the tobacco industry was made to pay for the harm that it causes, it would not turn a profit. While smoking rates may be declining in many high-income countries, they are on the rise across many middle- and low-income countries. As consumption increases so does the global environmental impact of the tobacco industry. It is unacceptable that the industry can continue to make billions in profits while washing its hands of the destructive costs of smoking. Credit: Brut.
Poverty deprives people of adequate education, health care and of life's most basic necessities- safe living conditions (including clean air and clean drinking water) and an adequate food supply. The developed (industrialized) countries today account for roughly 20 percent of the world's population but control about 80 percent of the world's wealth.
Poverty and pollution seem to operate in a vicious cycle that, so far, has been hard to break. Even in the developed nations, the gap between the rich and the poor is evident in their respective social and environmental conditions.