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How Smoking Damages the Environment

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Today, we often hear about how humans are causing climate change. Our very presence on this planet can cause damage to the environment. It could be challenging for us to accept this fact. Yet, there are many situations where humans can make things much worse. One such factor is smoking cigarettes or cigars. On one hand, you understand that people are addicted to smoking and feel that they need to do it. At the same time, you might wish to educate them on the damage they are doing to themselves and the environment. It may encourage them to leave behind their addictions or take the initial steps to do so.

The most obvious effect from smoking is the air pollution it creates. Any air containing smoke not only can bring damage to the lungs of smokers and others, but can also lead to deforestation. Cigarettes contain two gasses that pollute the atmosphere: methane and carbon dioxide. The World Health Organization said while the amount of tobacco being grown on agricultural land has grown less than one percent, global tobacco use causes a global deforestation impact of 2-4 percent and forest fires too. These statistics are alarming, since tobacco’s impact does not just come from tobacco smoke but the cigarette butts themselves.

Smokers throw cigarettes on the ground and the cigarette butts may end up at waterways, shorelines, and wetlands. According to the Ocean Conservancy, volunteers found more cigarette butts and cigarette filters as litter than any other item during their cleanup. Cigarette butts decompose only after 25-26 years. In the meantime, cigarette butts can harm animals, plants, and groundwater. During a 2009 cleanup, workers from the International Coastal Cleanup cleared almost 3.2 million butts from waterways and beaches. This was nearly twice the amount of other debris. The butts contain chemicals and additives that can pollute plants and the soil.

Since thirty percent of the American population are smokers, their habits could represent a grave threat to the environment. More people might need to begin considering how their addictions could be impacting the environment. Instead of smoking more cigarettes, they might wish to consider options to break themselves from their nicotine addiction to improve the health of themselves, other people, and their planet.

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.

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