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Quit Smoking to protect our environment

Posted 24 May, 2022

This World No Tobacco Day 2022 (WNTD) Quit is encouraging people who care about the environment to quit smoking or vaping. The 2022 WNTD theme is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment,” and the World Heath Organisations (WHO) has set the theme to raise international awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco – from cultivation, production, distribution, and waste.

Quit Director Dr Sarah White said that most people who smoke or vape aren’t aware that cigarette and e-cigarette production and consumption are accelerating the climate crisis by contributing to deforestation, carbon emissions, plastic pollution, water use and waterway contamination.

“The tobacco industry is responsible for incredible levels of deforestation, cutting down around 600 million trees every year to produce paper for cigarettes. The US Environmental Protection Authority reported that, in 2018, more than 431,000 kilograms of chemicals were released from tobacco facilities just in the US. Those two factors alone have an extraordinary impact on our environment. Tobacco production accounts for 5% of global deforestation. Then there is litter, and that’s a whole other level of damage to our environment.”

Dr White said that it was well known that cigarette butts were the most littered item in Australia and noted that e-cigarette litter is emerging as a new and serious environmental issue.

“We’re seeing packaging and e-cigarette devices, in addition to cigarette butts littered across streets, school grounds, parks and beaches in Victoria.

“There actually isn’t a way to safely dispose of e-cigarettes that have lithium-ion batteries enclosed with the chemical cartridge, let alone recycle the components. These disposable e-cigarettes are single use plastics, but they also present a biohazard and e-waste,” said Dr White. “We’ve seen examples of cars running over discarded e-cigarette devices, causing the chemicals inside the device to leach into the environment and thus risk poisoning plants and small animals.”

“We’re encouraging people to use their concerns for the environment as yet another motivation to stop smoking and vaping,” she said.

“Fundamentally, the only way to stop the tobacco industry’s damaging the planet, by manufacturing and shipping cigarettes and e-cigarettes around the globe, is to stop consuming their products.”

Notes:

About World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is Tuesday 31 May 2022. The World Health Organization (WHO) theme for WNTD 2022 is Tobacco: Threat to our environment.

The WHO campaign is raising public awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco – from cultivation, production, distribution, and waste. It will hopefully give people who smoke or vape another reason to quit.

Did you know?

  • 3.7 litres of water are used to make only one cigarette
  • Cigarette butts account for 30–40% of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups. 
  • Discarded e-cigarettes and cigarette butts can leach chemicals into soil and water and kill plants and wildlife. 
  • Most e-cigarettes cannot be recycled.  Most are made of single-use plastic and contain batteries that cannot be removed.

Visit our campaign page quit.org.au/wntd2022.

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