31 May 2022
WHO and public health leaders around the world will mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), this year, by focusing attention on the many ways tobacco harms the environment.
The 2022 global campaign is designed to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of the entire tobacco industry, from cultivation, production, and distribution, to the toxic waste it produces. The campaign will also aim to expose the tobacco industry’s effort to greenwash its reputation and to make its products more appealing by marketing them as environmentally friendly.
Tobacco use is harmful at every stage
The entire tobacco life cycle is incredibly polluting and harmful. Although smoking causes air pollution, it is not the only cause. The entire supply chain is affected, and it is much more complicated.
- Each year, tobacco cultivation causes the destruction of 3.5 million hectares across the globe. The deforestation of 200 000 hectares each year and soil degradation are also caused by tobacco cultivation.
- Tobacco production reduces the planet’s water, fossil fuel, and metal resources.
- Globalization of the supply chain and sales of tobacco means that the industry is heavily dependent on resource-intensive modes for transport.
- Every year, 4.5 trillion cigarettes butts are not properly disposed off. This generates 1.69 billion pounds of toxic material and releases thousands of chemicals into the atmosphere, water, and soil.
Need for stronger policies
Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and choosing sustainable products. Tobacco corporations, among other companies, have made sustainability an integral part of their corporate social responsibility strategies. They also adopted a number of greenwashing practices. These include beach clean ups and marketing new products that are eco-friendly to divert attention away from their environmental damaging actions.
The WNTD 2022 campaign urges governments and policy-makers worldwide to strengthen existing legislation and implement new schemes to make tobacco producers accountable for the economic and environmental costs of handling tobacco waste products. WHO recommends that all countries ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship in accordance to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.