Smokers, who number about 1.3 billion people worldwide, improperly emit about 4.5 trillion cigarette butts a year, and they are the most polluting things on the planet. The data are from STOP – an organization against smoking.
This staggering number is only part of the global damage inflicted by the tobacco industry. Tobacco is not only grown on deforested lands, but also “degrades soil quality and pollutes the air, land and water.”
Every year, billions of trees are cut down for cigarette production – 5 percent of the world’s deforestation. According to the STOP organization, cigarette butts account for about 20 percent of the waste collected by cleaning the oceans. The chemicals released from the butts are toxic enough to kill 50 percent of the freshwater and saltwater fish exposed to them for 96 hours, according to experiments cited by the organization.
The damage will increase with e-cigarettes. Their waste products could become an “even greater threat to the environment” than cigarettes, the organization warned, because they contain metal, electronics, disposable plastic fillers, batteries and toxic chemicals in the liquid. In addition to polluting the environment, smoking kills 8 million people a year worldwide and causes significant health care costs.