News and stories

Tobacco is a threat to our environment

May 31, 2022, 07:00 AM

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, a campaign created in 1987 by the World Health Organization (WHO) aimed at raising public awareness about the negative impacts of tobacco. For 2022, the theme is “Tobacco: Threat to our Environment." If you use tobacco, your individual health is not the only thing you can change. By quitting, you can help save our environment.

Here are some numbers every tobacco user should know:

  • 84 MEGATONS: This is the annual greenhouse gas contribution that the tobacco industry contributes to climate change
  • 3.5 MILLION: The amount of land (in hectares) that are destroyed for tobacco growing each year. That’s roughly 8,648,688 acres of land. Growing tobacco contributes to deforestation, especially in the developing world. Deforestation for tobacco plantations ruins the soil and the capacity for the land to support the growth of any other crops or vegetation
  • 90%: Amount of all tobacco production that is taking place in the developing world. Many farmers looking to make short-term cash benefits off the crop are not seeing the long-term consequences of producing tobacco. These consequences include increased food insecurity, frequent sustained farmers’ debt, illness and poverty among farm workers, and widespread environmental damage in low-and middle-income countries

“The environmental impacts of tobacco use add unnecessary pressure to our planet’s already scarce resources and fragile ecosystems. This is especially dangerous for developing countries, as that is where most of the tobacco production happens.” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at the World Health Organization. “Every cigarette you smoke, you are literally burning resources where they are already scarce, burning resources where our very existence depends upon.”

Tobacco production also burdens the countries least able to cope with the environmental impacts. Meanwhile, most of the profits are made by the tobacco companies that are based in higher-income countries.

Besides the WHO’s annual campaign, there are several worldly efforts aimed at quitting tobacco use and bringing attention to its negative consequences. For example, National No Smoking Day is held every second Wednesday of March in the UK. The Great American Smokeout takes place here in the United States on the third Thursday in November. These efforts began in 1984 and 1977, respectively, and have touched the lives of millions of tobacco users for over 40 years. 

At Columbia Pacific, we know that quitting isn’t easy. Our members have access to benefits that can help. Check out the information on our Stop Smoking page and start your journey toward kicking the habit. And next time you think about using tobacco, think about the environment. It is a great first step toward making yourself and the planet a cleaner and more livable place.