By Faranak Bakhtiari

Tobacco threatens our health, environment

May 24, 2022 - 18:46

TEHRAN – The "Tobacco, a threat to our health and the environment" campaign was launched by the Ministry of Health to mark the World No Tobacco Day.

The tobacco industry produces 84 megawatts of carbon dioxide-equivalent annual greenhouse gas, causing widespread global climate change and upsetting the planet’s climate balance, wasting environmental resources, and damaging ecosystems.

Annually, 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed for tobacco cultivation. Approximately 600 million trees are chopped down every year by the tobacco industry. On average each tree produces enough paper for 15 packs of cigarettes. Tobacco farming accounts for 5 percent of the world’s deforestation.

In the past two and a half years, the coronavirus pandemic has killed about 6 million people, while about 20 million people have died from tobacco-related diseases. Cigarette butts are the most abundant type of plastic waste in the world. This waste annually produces 767,000 kilograms of toxic waste, which is equivalent to 28,875 humpback whales in terms of weight.

Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette filters fill the surface of our cities, parks, beaches, and rivers, polluting water and soil.

The World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects, which currently lead to more than 8 million deaths each year worldwide, including 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

This year’s World No Tobacco Day theme is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.” The campaign aims to raise awareness among the public about the negative environmental impacts of tobacco – from cultivation, production, distribution, and waste. 

Mohsen Farhadi, technical deputy of the center of health and work environment of the Ministry of Health said that the epidemic of tobacco consumption is one of the national and global problems in the present era.

“The unprecedented development of tobacco production and its tremendous sales around the world, especially in low-income areas, has caused physical and psychological damage to communities, with many deaths from cancer in lung, mouth, stomach, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, and kidneys.

Smoking also increases cardiovascular disease and mortality,” he further noted.

The effects of inhaled cigarette smoke are no less than the side effects of smoking, he said, adding that cigarette smoke has no permitted dose from a health point of view, as neither air conditioners nor smoking spaces provide completely clean, pollutant-free air.

Therefore, the only way to protect yourself is not to be exposed to cigarette smoke inhalation.

According to the report of the World Health Organization, if the pattern of smoking does not change. The losses caused by smoking will be multiplied. In the past two and a half years, the coronavirus pandemic has killed about 6 million people, while about 20 million people have died from tobacco-related diseases. Preventing the increase in this statistic requires a lot of comprehensive efforts.

Iran also marked the National No Tobacco Week from May 25 to 31.

A healthier tomorrow with the development of non-smoking cities and villages; the development of tobacco cultivation: a threat to food security and the environment; advertising, sales, consumption, and smuggling of tobacco: threats to public health; increased taxes on tobacco products; the participation of non-governmental organizations in the control and national fight against tobacco; prevention of tobacco use through culture and community health education with the priority of students; and tobacco: a threat to our health and the environment are among the topics of National No Tobacco Week.

Tobacco imposes annual loss of $33b

Alireza Raeisi, the former deputy health minister, announced in May that estimates show that tobacco costs the country 1.4 quadrillion rials (nearly $33.3 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials) annually.

Referring to the 40 percent increase in hookah consumption over the last eight years in the country, he stated that tobacco brings the country a loss of 1.4 quadrillion rials (nearly $33.3 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials) annually, taking health costs into consideration.

Coronavirus has killed more than three million people in a year and a half, but smoking kills eight million people a year, and the tobacco mafia is still active, causing extensive damage to society, he lamented.

Aromatic tobacco is very dangerous and contains 7,000 chemicals, of which 70 are carcinogenic and 400 are toxic, he further noted.

In 2014, there were 7 tobacco production units, which increased to 23 units in 2020, showing that the number of these production units has quadrupled, he added.


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