Smoking is a bad habit from every angle. Besides slowly killing you even while it bleeds your wallet dry, complaints of everything from the effects of secondhand smoke to discarded cigarette butts on sidewalks showcase some of the more obvious effects that public smoking has on the people and world around us — and not all of its environmentally damaging effects are so obvious.
While it may seem like one of the most personal of habits, smoking has an affect on everything and everyone around us, in both the short and long term. Need yet another reason to butt out for good? Follow along as we explore the eco-impact of smoking:
1. Polluting the Air
One of the most obvious eco-impacts of smoking is the immediate pollution of nearby air that lighting up causes, putting everyone within a surprisingly wide radius at risk of inhaling a chemical cocktail that they would surely otherwise avoid. This has led to everything from plain old discomfort at the unpleasant smell, to clear cases where lung cancer has developed due to cigarette smoke in people who have never indulged in the habit.
For the sake of your fellow human beings, including the young, the ill, the elderly, the pregnant, and the absolutely healthy, consider butting out in order to do your part in making the air that we share as clean as possible!
2. Cigarette Butts
They may seem to be a small and unassuming waste product of smoking, but cigarette butts are more dangerous to our environment then you know, amounting to an estimated 135 million pounds of toxic waste dumped in a single year in the United States alone!
Besides being an eyesore — more than one million butts were cleaned from California beaches in 2010 alone (stats via ecig), for example — there are many polluting aspects of cigarettes butts that often go unnoticed. Most important among these eco-unfriendly factors of cigarette butts are the chemicals that leach into the ground and end up in various freshwater aquatic systems where they threaten the lives of countless micro-organisms before making their way into the water that we drink and wash with.
In the end, while dumping your ashtrays into garbage disposals is certainly a step up from simply flicking them onto the ground, the nasty things that cigarette butts contain will make their way into the planet’s water systems one way or another; it’s just a matter of time.
3. The Perils of Production
One major environmental impact of smoking is rooted in the growing of the necessary tobacco plants themselves, something that most smokers never consider. With tobacco being grown in various ways all across the world, it’s difficult to measure the growing stages with exactness, but there are a few facts that stand out enough to potentially give the smokers among us just the shock they need to realize how wide-reaching the effects of their habit is.
First among those facts is the knowledge that it takes an entire tree’s worth of paper to produce only about 1,000 cigarettes, causing the twofold effect of removing a pollutant-cleaning tree from the Earth and replacing it with pollutant-causing cigarettes. Second, the sheer amount of land, water, and energy required to produce enough cigarettes for the world’s one billion smokers is astounding, with every inch taken away from better causes and initiatives, such as the growing of vegetables for food or as alternative fuel sources.
4. Polluting the Future
No matter which environmental effects we choose to focus on here, one of the most important is the inadvertent lesson that smoking in front of others teaches, especially when those others are our very future!
No matter how much you may try to hide it, the keen eyes and susceptible minds of children are all around you, whether they are yours or not, and every puff that they see gives them the indication that indulging in cigarettes is a normal, everyday thing to do.
If we really want to eliminate all of the horrible effects of smoking, both personal and environmental, then that means that we need to teach the generation that will follow us that starting smoking to begin with is a horrible mistake that they need to avoid at all costs, and there is no easier way to teach that lesson than by butting out ourselves!