Feature

The seven deadly sins of smoking

G Magazine

Cigarettes don't just stop at your health when reaping damage...

smoking

Cigarette butts are the most littered item across the globe, with only 10 per cent of cigarette butts ending up in an ashtray, and around seven billion butts thrown on the ground in Australia per year.

Credit: iStockphoto

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1. Deforestation

In Africa, around five per cent of all deforestation is for land cleared to grow tobacco. In Malawi, tobacco contributes to 20 per cent of deforestation of the already threatened old-growth forests. Around 600 million trees (11.4 million tons of wood) are destroyed worldwide every year just to cure tobacco.

2. Land

Tobacco is nutrient-hungry; it uses potassium up to six times faster than other crops, so farmers use fertilisers (and even pesticides) to compensate, eventually degrading the soil so it can't grow anything. Growing tobacco also contributes to forest clearing for monoculture crops, and takes land that would otherwise be for agriculture.

3. Addiction

About 15 billion cigarettes are sold daily - or 10 million every minute. The World Health Organization estimates that there are around 1.3 billion smokers in the world (about one third of the global population aged 15 and over).

4. Air Pollution

Cigarette smoke is a main source of indoor carbon monoxide; it is so potent that it creates ten times more air pollution than diesel car exhaust. Even in outdoor areas, secondhand smoke can be 40 times the acceptable pollution limit over a whole day.

5. Litter

It might seem small and insignificant, but a cigarette butt dropped on the ground will be washed into stormwater drains in the rain and eventually reach streams and rivers. Cigarette butts are the most littered item across the globe, with only 10 per cent of cigarette butts ending up in an ashtray, and around seven billion butts thrown on the ground in Australia per year.

6. Toxic waste

With 4.5 trillion butts (845,000 tonnes) thrown on the ground each year - on beaches, into waterways, picnic areas and hiking trails - just one filter can kill half of the fish living in a litre of water. Butts are not made from cotton as commonly thought, but are made from acetate (a plastic) that takes 10-15 years to break down. The butt doesn't even have to have been smoked to kill aquatic life.

7. Fire

The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, says that seven per cent of bush fires are caused by discarded cigarettes that are still lit. However, from September this year, all cigarettes sold in Australia must be self-extinguishing, meaning they do not burn when left alone.

Guide to repent

Of course the best thing to do is quit. Visit www.quitnow.info.au

If you can't/won't then:
- Get yourself a personal ashtray
- Smoke organic rollies. American Spirit is 100 per cent certified organic and additive free leaf tobacco. www.rollyourown.com
- Look out for the new green butts. Natural filters made from 100 per cent compostable cotton and hemp, Greenbutts even have seeds for flowers and fruit in their all-natural butts. Their patent is pending. www.green-butts.com