WHO warns that tobacco industry is ‘poisoning’ the planet

“Tobacco is not only poisoning people, it’s poisoning our planet.”
Cigarettes in a ashtray (Photo: Pixabay)

NEW YORK, NY (CBS) — The tobacco industry is “poisoning our planet”, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, adding it costs 600 million trees, 22 billion tons of water and produces 84 million tons of CO2 every year.

While the impact on health is well known, killing over 8 million people each year, smoking also has an impact on the planet, causing deforestation, water waste, air pollution, and littered beaches, parks and city sidewalks, the director of health promotion at the WHO, Dr Ruediger Krech told a newsbriefing in Geneva.

“Tobacco is not only poisoning people, it’s poisoning our planet,” he warned.

In its new report ‘Tobacco: Poisoning our planet’, released on World No Tobacco day 2022, the WHO says that the production, the process and the transport of tobacco is equivalent to 20 percent of CO2 produced by the commercial airline industry each year.

Cigarette butts with filters are the most commonly littered item worldwide, with a staggering 4.5 trillion of them tossed into the environment each year.

Many end up on beaches and in the ocean, and the tar from burnt tobacco in the filter can be toxic to wildlife.

“Every of these cigarette butts pollute up to hundred liters of water,” Krech said.

WHO calls on governments to consider banning cigarette filters as they don’t have any proven health benefits.

“The environmental consequences of tobacco use move it from being a human problem to a planetary problem. Tobacco can no longer be categorized simply as a health threat, it is a threat to human development as a whole,” Krech said.

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