H/T Audrey Silk for this from theinertia.com, which seems to be a website devoted to unnecessary pastimes like surfing and white-water rafting:
Cigarettes are a global health epidemic. More than seven million people die per year from tobacco use, leading the World Health Organization to call the substance the world’s largest cause of preventable death.
By now smokers and non-smokers are well aware of the impacts of first-hand and second-hand smoke. But, in a recent study released Wednesday by the WHO, it turns out the tobacco industry also has a detrimental impact on the environment.
From crop to pack to ashtray (or in most cases the street or sidewalk), tobacco products are resource intensive, release a harmful amount of greenhouse gases, and result in between 430,000 and 860,000 tons of waste per year. That waste ultimately ends up in our oceans and waterways releasing known carcinogens into our environment.
But tobacco’s impact begins long before it’s even planted. According to the study, tobacco farmers must clear large swaths of forested land to make room for their crop. And after it’s harvested, wood is required for curing, and to create rolling papers and packaging. CNN estimates that 11.4 million metric tons are used annually, or 1 tree per 300 cigarettes. Tobacco, therefore, contributes significantly to deforestation which has been identified as a major source of CO2 emissions, and as a result climate change.
Plus, tobacco is often grown as a monocrop – meaning it’s not rotated with other crops – leaving the plants and soil vulnerable to pests and disease. As a result, tobacco farming uses large quantities of chemicals like pesticides and growth regulators, and the intensive use of fertilizers.
Dr. Armando Peruga, a consultant that previously coordinated the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative told CNN, “Tobacco also takes away a lot of nutrients from the soil and requires massive amounts of fertilizer, a process that leads to degradation of the land and desertification, with negative consequences for biodiversity and wildlife.”
Beyond the devastating impact of production on the environment, the WHO estimates that tobacco smoke contributed to thousands of metric tons of known carcinogens. “Toxic emissions include 3,000-6,000 metric tons of formaldehyde; 12,000–47,000 metric tons of nicotine; and the three major greenhouse gases found in tobacco smoke – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides,” explains the study.
The WHO argues that particularly with post-consumer waste, localities bear the brunt of the economic burden of managing and mitigating the problem. This, they suggest, should be shifted on to producers who have obfuscated tobacco’s impact on the environment over the years. The study also recommends countries tax tobacco products even more heavily than many of them do already – CNN reports that governments collect $270 billion annually in tobacco taxes.
The study concludes with a slightly ominous note. “Ultimately, every effort made will move us a step nearer to a world that recognizes tobacco as a serious problem for the entire planet,” the study reads. “And it is imperative that we act fast. The human, financial and environmental costs are simply too great for us not to.”
So even just growing tobacco is “a serious problem for the entire planet”.
I can’t help but think that if growing tobacco is a serious problem for the entire planet, growing more or less anything at all must be a “serious problem”.
What about all those farms in which they just grow flowers? Or lettuce? Or cress? Or celery? Or more or less anything you care to mention?
Audrey Silk seemed to think that the article was saying that tobacco was an unnecessary crop, and that people should only grow things that were necessary. I didn’t read that in the article above, but it may well be what they meant.
But if growing “unnecessary” plants should be stopped, then shouldn’t every single garden, filled with flowers and shrubs and trees be condemned? Shouldn’t gardening be banned? After all, gardeners use lots of fertilizers and herbicides and insecticides. And they also grow mono-crops. I don’t remember my Mum ever digging up her rose bushes and saying “This year we’re going to rotate, and grow mangoes instead.”
And in fact aren’t most forests – including the Amazon rainforest – sort of unnecessary as well. Couldn’t they be replaced with useful potato fields?
It reminds me of attempts that were made to wipe out other “unnecessary” plants, like hemp or opium poppies. Now the fuckers want to wipe out tobacco as well. But surely “bad” tobacco and hemp and poppies must be just as integral to any ecosystem as “good” potatoes and wheat and rice and oak. After all, these plants evolved along with all the rest.
Why are these people so fucking controlling?