Smoking does not just harm the individual smoker. There are a whole range of ways that tobacco harms the global ecosystem.
For example 600 million trees
are cut down every year to provide fuel to dry tobacco. That works out to be 1 tree for every 300 cigarettes.
However the main damage from cigarettes to the environment comes mainly through cigarette butt litter.
Did you know that cigarette butts are the single most commonly littered thing in existence, ever. Walk outside and you will not have to go far from
your front door to find one. They rank top in the worlds litter problems - annually 4.3 trillion
are dropped each year.
To get an idea of the scale of this problem the city of San Francisco in California puts a 20 cent tax on each packet of cigarettes sold. This tax is wholly
used to pay for the cleaning up of cigarette butts. That is $10.7 million annually, in just one city.
These discarded cigarette ends are not just unsightly, they actually do a huge amount of damage in a variety of ways.
Small animals will often mistake the cigarette butts for food. Once ingested they can cause a huge amount of health issues. Including but not
limited to vomiting, respiratory failure, and death.
This is not just a problem for land animals either. Many littering smokers will attempt to discard of their cigarette ends by flicking them down
a drain to ease their conscience. Out of sight is out of mind for many people.
What they may not know is that more often than not these
discarded cigarette butts will make their way into our oceans and rivers.
Marine life then faces the exact same issue as land animals do. Mistaking it for food and ingesting it - often leading to lethal consequences
for the creature.
To make all these issues even worse - cigarette butts are not biodegradable. When they enter our ecosystem, they stay there for up to 25 years.
When they do finally degrade they poison the soil or water with the chemicals that are present inside them.
It seems to be that because cigarette ends are so common that we actually ignore just how dangerous they can be to wildlife.
We need to start disposing of cigarette butts correctly. We need to treat them like the toxic waste they are.