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18 Reasons Why Mother Nature Wants You to Stop Smoking (and Vaping)!
Changing your lifestyle can be incredibly difficult! According to the American Heart Association, nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin. If you are considering quitting it’s important to realize that different techniques work for different people. If you feeling discouraged it might be time for a new strategy. Sometimes people find they need a bit of external pressure to quit. Some people need to understand the bigger picture and how changing a bad habit can have positive effects that radiate beyond them.
This is why I thought it might be helpful to write about the environmental impacts of smoking. Not only is smoking hurting you and the people around you, it’s also hurting our environment. Continue reading to learn more:
Producing cigarettes is very energy intensive and uses lot’s of toxic chemicals. Over 456 000 kg of toxic chemicals were released in 2008 from the production of cigarettes, including ammonia, nicotine, hydrochloric acid, methanol, and nitrates.
This is not even the full picture, in many countries tobacco companies aren’t forced to report their emissions and waste, it’s voluntary. As you can imagine the information we get from them isn’t reliable as they want to look good.
Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item in the world. In 2012 6.3 trillion cigarettes were consumed. Canadians drop 8,000 tonnes of cigarette butts per year, most within 10ft of an ashtray. That’s a lot of trash!
Cigarettes are the biggest source of ocean pollution, even surpassing plastic straws! If your ditching plastic straws maybe it's time to ditch the cigarette butts too. In fact research has shown that cigarette butts (and the filters inside them) have no impact on your health, they are useless.
It can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to degrade, depending on the conditions. That being said the butts never fully degrade, instead the butts are just broken down into smaller pieces that continue to leach toxic chemicals into the land and water.
Cigarette butts are a problem but so is all of the packing associated with smoking. This year 2,089 lighters, 33,865 pieces of cigarette packaging and 58,672 cigar tips were picked up from US beaches.
Cigarettes not only cause cancer in humans, but also in animals. Animals are exposed to tobacco through the 7000 chemicals that creep into our soil and water ways from the leftover butts. It’s not only wild animals, pets are also at higher risk if they live with a smoker.
One study put one cigarette butt in a liter of water for 24 hours. The one butt released enough chemicals to kill 50% of the fish that were exposed to that water for the next 96 hours. Shocking? Now times that by the 6.3 trillion cigarettes that were consumed in 2012!
It’s common for animals eat cigarette butts because they think they are food, toxic chemicals seep into their bodies and they often choke on the butts.
Many tobacco companies still test on animals or have done so within the last decade.
- Cigarette butts start many fires. 900 people a year die due to fires caused by cigarettes and 2,500 people are injured in the United States alone.
It’s estimated that 40% of wildfires in British Columbia are started by human activity, one of these reasons is due to people not putting out their cigarettes properly.
Growing tobacco leads to deforestation because we need land to grow tobacco and they cut wood to burn to cure the tobacco (11.4 million metric tonnes of wood is cut down every year for the curing process). More trees are cut down to make cigarette paper and packaging.
Farmers usually only grow tobacco, they don’t rotate crops, and the soil is depleted of nutrients. To make up for this farmers have to use large quantities of chemicals and pesticides which harm our land and water.
Tobacco production leads to soil erosion (which can lead to landslides), intensive water use, high C02 emissions.
The transportation of tobacco products leads to lot’s of pollution. Often the tobacco leaves are grown in one place, shipped to the factory and then shipped to stores. That’s three separate journeys for one product!
Vapes are electronic and as a result include lot’s plastics, metals and batteries. In this respect vapes are actually worse for the environment than traditional cigarettes as the materials are not natural and plant based. It takes more energy, materials and chemicals to make a vape and vape accessories.
On top of that most of the cartridges and vape components aren’t recyclable or reusable so they are going straight to the landfill. Many experts are predicting that vape juice packages will become the cigarette butts of the future.
This article has probably given you lot’s to think about, you might be feeling pretty upset after reading all of this. I didn’t write this article to make you feel bad. I wrote it because it’s important to understand how our actions impact society. Having a full understanding of your actions is important. It can help you determine if what you’re doing is worth it.
If this article has motivated you to change make sure you pick a quitting strategy that’s right for you. Maybe this is quitting cold turkey, maybe this is slowly cutting back. Whatever it is be kind to yourself. This is a difficult change to make, you might stumble, but don’t give up. Trying to make a change is way better than not trying at all!
Good luck - maybe link to other articles in this series.
Kathryn is a recent MSW graduate currently trying to #adult. Prior to joining mindyourmind Kathryn worked with youth in the community development sector. She loves being part of a team and working on creative projects. In her spare time Kathryn is a proud plant parent, home chef and avid volunteer. Kathryn is excited to be a part of the mindyourmind team and looks forward to working on innovative and stigma busting projects.
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