When people think of smoking, often they think of the health related effects on humans, or the impact smoking can have on other areas of society.
But, smoking can have an impact on the environment, animals and wildlife too.
In this guide, we outline that potential impact.
Summary – Potential Impact Of Smoking On The Environment, Wildlife & Animals
Smoking can contribute to air, water and land pollution, both from the smoke from butts (which emits particulate matter, and is said by some reports to be stronger than car exhaust fumes), and from the leaching of an array of chemicals found inside butts when butts are littered
Cigarette butts are one of the leading types of littered waste found on beach cleanups
Butts have the potential to start wild fires and destroy habitats and land if littered and not butted out properly
The growing of tobacco may require the clearing of land – which can contribute to deforestation. This growing process also uses resources
Smoking can cause negative side effects for both wildlife (from pollution, from ingestion, and from degradation of habitat), but also pets in our homes (from second hand inhalation)
Effects Of Smoking On The Environment
Cigarette butts contain chemicals that when the butt is disposed of, these chemicals can contaminate water, soil and animal habitats
Cigarettes that aren’t butted out properly can in some rarer cases cause fires – which can damage bushland/tree areas, and even people’s homes
[studies find] chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic, nicotine, several heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in butts
[these chemicals can leach out into the environment when butts are disposed of properly]
Smoking also causes air pollution (lowering air quality):
The air pollution emitted by cigarettes is 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust …
… Environmental tobacco smoke produces fine particulate matter, which is the most dangerous element of air pollution for health
Deforestation, and climate change are side effects of growing tobacco:
Trees are cleared in order to make room for tobacco cultivation, and for “flue-cured” tobacco, the finished crop is dried using burned wood.
This not only contributes to climate change by releasing CO2 and removing carbon-absorbing trees, it also removes habitat for wild animals and increases the use of harmful pesticides.
Effects Of Smoking On Animals & Wildlife
Wild animals can ingest cigarette butts that pollute beaches and the ocean.
Wild animals also live in the aquatic and other environments that can be contaminated by smoking chemicals
If there are fires caused by lit cigarette butts – animals are obviously at danger of being caught in the fire
It’s also worth noting that air pollution caused by smoking (by release of particulate matter and other air contaminants) also lowers air quality for wild animals
[Apart from wild animals, pets in our homes can suffer from the effects of smoking via] secondhand smoke (inhalation) and thirdhand smoke (toxic residue on the fur and feathers, carpet, and bedding).
[this can cause health issues for pets]
[puppies and other pets can also ingest cigarette butts that aren’t disposed of properly]