The World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has said that cigarette butts are now the most discarded waste item worldwide – with some 4.5 trillion thrown away each year, representing 1.69 billion pounds of toxic trash annually.
According to NAN, WHO-FCTC said various studies indicated that this was compounded and accelerated as bans on indoor smoking took effect in many of the world’s cities and countries over the past two decades.
The UN tobacco control treaty watchdog further warned that apart from deforestation to soil degradation and pollution, tobacco production and its use by consumers is “tremendously destructive” for the environment.
Speaking on the development, Dr Vera e Silva, the Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat, said, however, that control measures could help curb its negative environmental effects, including the damaging impact of climate change.
She said: “People often immediately think of the health impact that tobacco has, but there is not enough awareness of how tremendously destructive it is for the environment too, on land, underwater and in the air.”
Dr Silva also maintained that a high amount of deforestation occurs, not only to create space for tobacco farming but also because a lot of timber is required for the drying process of tobacco leaves after they are harvested.
It was also estimated that tobacco farming causes up to five per cent of global deforestation, with 200,000 hectares of natural wood biomass loss each year.
“Studies indicate that tobacco growing could be up to 10 times more aggressive than all other deforestation factors,” e Silva noted.
WHO FCTC is a global health treaty that advocates for the control of tobacco production, sale and use, as a way of reducing tobacco-related illnesses, deaths, environmental degradation and poverty across the world.