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Anthropogenic causes of air pollution: Smoking

It might seem insignificant if you look just at one cigarette emissions, but take into account the quantity of cigarettes burned per day and it becomes a clear cause of air pollution. Recent studies in 2018 show that more than the 20% of the world’s population smokes, which is an absolute value of more than 1 billion people smoking! And do you think they smoke only one cigarette per day?

Moreover, non-smokers are passively toxified by inhaling the fumes from smokers. The University of Minnesota estimates that up to 90 percent of the American population is routinely exposed to secondhand smoke, which means almost everyone is exposed to smokers’ risks.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 50 carcinogens, making it an especially lethal form of air pollution. It emits a series of toxic chemicals including a series of organic and inorganic chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic.

Air pollution:…

… growing tobacco

Tobacco is a very fragile plant, so during massive crops a lot of pesticides, chemicals and herbicides are used. Methyl bromide is a chemical that stands out on the list due to its well known effects on depleting the ozone layer.

tobacco plantation

Moreover, a lot of these pesticides and herbicides used when growing tobacco reach into the groundwater. An example is Aldicarb, a poisonous pollutant that can kill wildlife and humans, and was found in groundwater in 27 U.S. states in 2005.

… manufacturing

The manufacturing process of tobacco release several pollutants into the environment: ammonia, ethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, methyl ethyl ketone, nicotine and nicotine salts, nitric acid, phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid, and toluene.

Supply always meets demand in every single product, and efforts should focus not on regulating this process, but on eradicating tobacco demand.

… transport

As any other product sold worldwide, major players grow and manufacture tobacco in few locations, and from there tobacco is spread worldwide using any mean of transport possible. Shipping vessels, trucks and planes, which are responsible for emitting tons of CO2, are used to deliver tobacco everywhere. There is not a single village or urban mile where you cannot find it.  

… consumption

There are 4.5 trillion filtered cigarettes smoked around the world every year, and all of those cigarette butts and fumes end up somewhere. Do we really think about it?

cigarette stub

Smoking cigarettes releases more than 50 carcinogens and other toxins into the air we all breathe. This pollutes the air and harms human and animal life. Non-smokers are also exposed to secondhand smoke respiration, and fatal consequences are a lottery.

… cigarettes vs diesel car exhaust

The magazine Tobacco Control released a study which compared the air pollution in a closed garage for 30 minutes of a diesel car exhaust and three cigarettes combustion (smokers will know you can smoke three cigarettes in less than 30 minutes).

The results were astonishing, PM2.5 levels were 10 times greater in cigarettes than in the diesel car. This study raised the concerns of the real involvement that tobacco has in the air pollution issue, and is now considered a major source of air pollution responsible of environmental impact worldwide.

cigarette stub

Smoking health risks

There are several short term and long term effects of smoking, and as you can imagine these are not beneficial, but dangerous effects. Overall, smoking has been one of greatest health hazards among humans, killing millions of people every year worldwide.

Non smokers can also suffer from these effects if they are exposed through passive smoking. In other word, breathing second hand smoke from smokers around them.

The most common disease associated to smoking is lung cancer, but this type of critical disease can be developed in multiple body parts:

  • Mouth
  • Lips
  • Throat
  • Voice box (larynx)
  • Oesophagus (the tube between the mouth and stomach)
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas

Smoking also damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to the brain)

How to quit smoking?

quit smoking

If you are willing to take action on this addiction, we recommend you to start writing the routines you have associated to smoking, an try to substitute these routines for other activities. For example, if you smoke after lunch, maybe you should wash your dishes, get a nap, watch the news or read a bit.

If you are looking for additional help, you will find several books on how to stop smoking in Amazon. These are just helpful if you follow the advice strictly. You can find also several apps that can help you on this issue.

There are several benefits of quitting smoking, but the most important one is that you will never harm your health and the health from the people you love.

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