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Environmental impact

A few facts 

  • A cigarette-manufacturing machine uses four miles of paper per hour to roll and package cigarettes.[i]
  • The tobacco industry burns as much as one acre of forest for every acre of tobacco cured, using 12% of all the timber felled in the world.
  • On average, a tree is cut down for every 300 cigarettes (about a two-week supply for a pack-a-day smoker).
  • In Brazil, the country’s 100,000 tobacco farmers need the wood of 60 million trees a year.
  • Tobacco cultivation involves a great deal of pesticides, which must be used in the early stages of tobacco growth. Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides poison farm workers, seep into the soil and pollute waterways and ecological systems, and poison livestock and food crops.
  • Tobacco farming is harmful to workers 
  • In the U.S., all cigarette butts thrown away in 1993 weighed as much as 30,800 large elephants.
  • Cigarette butts are washed into rivers, lakes and the ocean from city streets, through storm drains.  Seabirds, animals and fish eat them by mistake.  Their bodies have no way to digest the filters and they can die.
  • Cigarette butts take an average of 25 years to decompose

The Community Health perspective 

Learn more about the public health perspective at CU Boulder.

Research at CU

Marty Otañez, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver