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News > World

WHO Warned of the Environmental Effects of the Tobacco Industry

  • The tobacco industry is damaging the environment and human health. May. 31, 2022.

    The tobacco industry is damaging the environment and human health. May. 31, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/@jontwitt

Published 31 May 2022

On Tuesday, the WHO released information on the harmful effects of tobacco, both on the environment and human health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday of the negative effects of the tobacco industry on the environment and on human health. The international organization called on adopting measures to make the industry more accountable for the destruction it is causing.

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According to data, the tobacco industry costs the world over 8 million human lives, 600 million trees, 200 000 hectares of land, 22 billion tonnes of water, and 84 million tonnes of CO2. Low-and-middle-income countries are often the major tobacco producers instead of using water and farmland to produce food for those regions that desperately need it. As they continue to grow tobacco, more forest lands are being cleared.

The “Tobacco: Poisoning our planet” report, issued by the WHO, emphasizes the equivalent of the CO2 that the industry’s carbon footprint from production, processing, and transporting tobacco consumes, accountable for the one-fifth of the CO2 produced by the commercial airline industry each year contributing to global warming.

According to Dr. Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO, “tobacco products are the most littered item on the planet, containing over 7000 toxic chemicals, which leech into our environment when discarded. Roughly 4.5 trillion cigarette filters pollute our oceans, rivers, city sidewalks, parks, soil, and beaches every year.”

As cigarette filters contain microplastics, they are liable for the second-highest form of plastic pollution worldwide, alongside products such as cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes contributing to the build-up of plastic pollution.

The WHO called on the tobacco marketing industry to give cigarette filters the place they should have in this scenario, single-use plastics, as there is no evidence that they have any proven health benefits. The organization suggested that policy-makers consider the prohibition to protect public health and the environment.

Each year the global costs of cleaning up littered tobacco products, which fall nothing less than to taxpayers, rather than the industry creating the problem, is accountable to millions and billions of dollars per country.

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