The WHO has condemned the tobacco industry for its environmental impact

Please get the bill: The World Health Organization has condemned the tobacco industry for its environmental impact

World No Tobacco Day: The report looks at the effects of the whole cycle. (File)


The WHO said Tuesday that the tobacco industry is a much bigger threat because it is one of the world’s biggest polluters, ranging from emissions to global warming.

The World Health Organization has accused the industry of massive deforestation, diverting poorly needed land and water from food production, removing plastic and chemical waste, and emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide.

In its report released on World No Tobacco Day, the UN agency called for a bill to clean up the tobacco industry.

The report, “Tobacco: Toxic to Our Planet”, looks at the effects of the entire cycle, from plant growth to the production, use and disposal of tobacco products.

Although the health effects of tobacco have been well documented for decades – smoking still kills more than eight million people worldwide each year – the report focuses on its broader environmental consequences.

The results are “quite devastating,” Ruidiger Krech, WHO’s director of health promotion, told AFP, referring to the industry as “one of the biggest polluters we know.”


He denounced the frequent efforts of tobacco companies to restore their image through beach cleanup and the financing of environmental and disaster relief agencies as “green bleaching”.

“The tobacco industry dumps toxic waste into the community and erodes natural resources,” he told a news conference.

“Tobacco is not only poisoning humans, it is poisoning our planet.”

The industry is responsible for the loss of approximately 600 million trees each year – or five percent of global deforestation – while tobacco growth and production use 200,000 hectares of land and 22 billion tons of water per year, the report found.

It emits about 84 million tons of carbon dioxide, it says.

In addition, “tobacco products are the most polluted material on the planet, containing more than 7,000 toxic chemicals, which, if discarded, would cause leeches in our environment,” Kretch said.

4.5 trillion cigarette butts

He noted that an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts that end up in oceans, rivers, sidewalks and beaches each year could contaminate 100 liters of water each.

And up to a quarter of all tobacco growers are infected with the so-called green tobacco disease, or are poisoned by the nicotine they absorb through the skin.

Those who cultivate tobacco leaves all day long drink the equivalent of 50 cigarettes a day, the equivalent of nicotine, Kretch said.

This is especially worrying for many children involved in tobacco cultivation.

“Imagine a 12-year-old coming in contact with 50 cigarettes a day,” he said.

Most tobacco grows in poor countries, where water and agricultural supplies are often scarce, and where such crops are often grown at the expense of vital food production, the report said.

UN agencies have launched a project to help farmers convert to other crops.

Plastic contamination

At the same time tobacco processing and transportation account for a significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to one-fifth of the carbon footprint of the global airline industry.

In addition, products such as cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes also contribute significantly to the global build-up of plastic pollution, the WHO warned.

Cigarette filters contain microplastics – tiny particles that have been detected in every ocean and even at the bottom of the deepest trenches in the world – and create the second highest incidence of plastic pollution worldwide, the report said.

The United Nations has called on global policymakers to consider banning unfiltered cigarettes, saying there is no evidence that they provide any health benefits.

The WHO called on governments to immediately stop subsidizing the nearly $ 500 billion in tobacco industry each year and to stop allowing taxpayers to bill to clean up the industry.

Each year, China pays about $ 2.6 billion and India about $ 766 million, while Brazil and Germany pay about $ 200 million for each tobacco product, the report found.

That’s important, Cretch said, “the industry actually pays for the mess they’re making.”

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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