The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a publication that examined the massive strain tobacco farming places on our planet’s natural resources.
It takes just 1 tree to dry and cure the equivalent of 300 cigarettes, or about 15 boxes. Philip Morris, just ONE of the world’s leading tobacco producers, reports producing 800 billion cigarettes every year. Philip Morris is going to burn approximately 2.7 billion trees every year- and that’s not counting the countless trees that will be removed to make room for tobacco crops. Fewer trees results in less oxygen in our air and increased carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which is a major contributing cause of global warming.
Tobacco crops can be seriously bad news for soil health. Tobacco plants absorb large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the soil- all of which are essential nutrients to plants. In order to make up for the nutrients the plants need, farmers will often use fertilizers and growth regulators. Farmers will also use pesticides in order to increase crop yield. The use of these products can harm beneficial microbes and insects and can also leech in to the local community’s groundwater supply, which is the main drinking water source for about half of our country.
Cigarettes don’t stop being dangerous even after they’ve been used. Cigarette butts are the single most common type of litter in the world- approximately 2 out of every 3 winds up on the ground. About 340-680 thousand metric tons of tobacco is wasted on the ground in these tossed butts, continuing to leak pesticides, fertilizers, and the cocktail of hundreds of toxic ingredients in to the soil. Worst of all, cigarette butts are not biodegradable, so they can continue to poison the environment for years to come.