Tobacco farming’s awful environmental impact

Every part of the tobacco process carries some damage to the environment (/source)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | October 30th, 2018

Smoking is well-established as a health hazard, both for the smoker and for the people around them. Inhaling cigarette smoke over long periods of time can cause lung and throat cancer, along with dulled taste buds and altered eating patterns. But the consumption of tobacco isn’t the only way to cause harm. Tobacco farming has its negative effects, too.

The tobacco industry, as it turns out, has a massive carbon footprint, exceeding the footprint of some countries.

Every aspect of tobacco production is environmentally harmful. The plant is grown as a monocrop, staying in the same soil and left un-rotated with other crops. Curing tobacco leaves requires a lot of energy for little yield; a single tree contributes enough wood to dry tobacco that will find its way into 300 cigarettes, a relatively small number compared to how many cigarettes are smoked each year. The toxins in cigarette butts leech into soil and water, contaminating everything it touches.

With aggressive campaigns to reduce smoking habits in the US, cigarettes may not seem like a particularly large threat. But smoking is prevalent in the EU and in parts of East Asia, and without stricter guidelines for growing tobacco, this under-the-rader industry will continue damaging our already delicate environment.

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