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A new study reveals how tobacco negatively impacts the environment

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A new study by the World Health Organization examining the environmental cost of tobacco revealed that smoking kills 7 million people a year, contributes to planetary deforestation, and increases the amount of pollution and littering, CNN reported.

Smoking also contributes globally to $1.4 trillion in health care expenses and lost productivity. 


Here are some of the biggest areas that are impacted by cigarette production. 

Land use

Tobacco farming takes place in 124 countries around the world and accounts for 4.3 million hectares of land. Upwards of 90 percent of that production takes place in low-income countries like China, India and Brazil. 

Tobacco generally tends to be a weaker crop, requiring all sorts of pesticides and chemicals to stay alive. These chemicals wind up hurting the land on which the tobacco crops are grown. These chemicals also directly impact the health of farmers. 

Deforestation

The farming of tobacco also requires a surprising amount of wood. The equivalent of one tree is used to create roughly 300 cigarettes, or roughly 1.5 cartons of cigarettes. 

The study finds that tobacco farming is a cause for concern, citing "evidence of substantial, and largely irreversible, losses of trees and other plant species cause by tobacco farming."

Litter

Litter caused by discarding cigarettes is the most common type in the world. Such waste is also laced with harmful chemicals like arsenic, which can find their way into the water supply. 

The WHO estimates that cigarette butts account for 30 to 40 percent of all waste collected during city clean-ups. Tossing cigarettes on the ground and littering in such a manner is still considered to be socially acceptable in many countries. 

Dangerous Gases

Tobacco smoke contains loads of chemicals, around 4,000 to be exact. Approximately 250 of those 4,000 are known to be harmful, and who knows about the other 3,750. Both formaldehyde and nicotine are released into the air every time someone lights up. 

Cigarette smoke also contains greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. The greenhouse gases of all the cigarettes smoked annually in the world equate to those produced by about 1.5 million vehicles driven annually. 

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