The Tobacco Industries Impact on Deforestation

July 2, 2021

For decades we have known that cigarettes are toxic, for both people who smoke and those around them. What you may not know is just how toxic and dangerous cigarettes are to the environment.

Most alarming is that billions of trees are cut down every year to make cigarettes.1 2 3 4 5 In many countries, wood is burnt to cure the tobacco leafs that are used to make cigarettes and other tobacco products. In fact, it is estimated that one tree is burned for every 300 cigarettes made from tobacco grown in developing countries. 1 2 3 4 5

And how many more are cut down to make the packaging for cigarette cartons and packaging?

The destruction of these trees contributes to deforestation worldwide, thus increasing the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 6

But that is not where the dangers end. Cigarette butts are the number one item picked up on California roadways. 7 8 9 10

These butts are non-biodegradable 9 10 11 and toxic, 9 11 12 13 14 meaning they remain in the environment and can leach toxic chemicals, including nicotine, formaldehyde, and arsenic, into water and soil for years. So not only does this litter tarnish the natural beauty of The Golden State and contribute to community blight, but it poses a serious risk to the health and safety of Californians and California wildlife.

References renameme

  1. Muller, Mike. 1978. Tobacco and the Third World: tomorrow's epidemic? : A War on Want Investigation into the Production, Promotion, and Use of Tobacco in the Developing Countries.
  2. S. Chapman, Deputy Editor, Tobacco Control Journal, 1994; 3: 191-193 Tobacco and Deforestation in the Developing World)
  3. Kweyuth PHM. Tobacco expansion in Kenya – the socioecological losses. Tobacco Control Journal 1994: 3: 248-51)
  4. Waluye J. Environmental impact of tobacco growing in Tabora/Urambo, Tanzania. Tobacco Control 1994: 3: 252-4)
  5. Muwanga-Bayego H. Tobacco growing in Uganda: the environment and women pay the price. Tobacco Control 1994: 3: 255-6)
  6. United States Environmental Protection Agency – Terminology Services: Deforestation.
  7. California Department of Transportation. Caltrans Litter Management Pilot Study. August 2001
  8. Ocean Conservatory, International Coastal Cleanup. Trash Travels: From Our Hands to the Sea, Around the Globe, and Through Time. 2010.
  9. Novotny, T.E., Lum, K., Smith, E., Wang, V., Barnes, R. Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2009.
  10. Beck RW. Final Report: Litter: A Review of Litter Studies, Attitude Surveys and Other Litter-related Literature. Keep America Beautiful, Inc., 2007
  11. Novotny, Thomas E. et al. “Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 6.5 (2009): 1691–1705. PMC. Web. 28 Aug. 2015
  12. Slaughter, E., Gersberg, R.M., Watanabe, K., Rudolph, J., Stransky, C., Novotny, T.E. Toxicity of Cigarette Butts, and Their Chemical Components, to Marine and Freshwater Fish. Tobacco Control. 20 (Suppl 1):i25-i29. DOI:10.1136/tc.2010.040170. February 2011.
  13. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Smoking and Tobacco Use - Frequently Asked Questions: Tobacco Products.
  14. Moriwaki, H., Kitajima, S., Katahira, K. Waste on the roadside, ‘poi-sure’ waste: Its distribution and elution potential of pollutants into environment. Waste Management. (29): 1192-1197. August 2008.