Doc explains damaging effects of cigarette smoking to health, environment

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Medical Officer Meliarazon F. Dulay of the Provincial Health Office underscored the impact of smoking as she shared some facts on the dangerous effects of smoking to health and the environment.

The damage that smoking does to the environment is unquantifiable, according to “Tobacco and the Environment, an Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Factsheet, Dulay explained during the recent Health and Environment Summit spearheaded by the Municipal Health Services and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office.

The cigarette contains 7,000 chemicals which are toxic when ingested by children and eaten by mistake among household pets and animals including fish and other marine life.

The sight of cigarettes and packages disappearing into a storm and drain may ease the guilt of a litterer but those often find their way into bodies of water, and subsequently, the stomachs of marine wildlife. The cigarette butt, the most littered worldwide, is non-biodegradable composed of cellulose acetate, a plastic that may disperse into smaller pieces.

It said that smoking releases about 2.6 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide in the air worldwide every year which is not good for the health. It also releases about 5.2 billion kilograms of methane every year which is a toxic substance.

Its effect to the environment in quantifiable amount is dangerous to second hand smoke and also air pollution. Ninety percent of the smoke from a cigarette is released into the air creating side stream or the emission of smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette or cigar. It is also the main source of indoor pollution. In addition, tobacco curing directly contributes to global warming.

It contributes to deforestation as millions of hectares of trees are being cut down for its plantation. Consequently, it causes soil erosion, desertification, making the land unfit for agriculture. Tobacco plants use more nutrients than several crops which quickly degrades the surrounding soil.

As to cigarette production, Dulay said a tree is cut down for every 300 cigarettes. Trees are also used to process tobacco leaves, produce paper to package and wrap the cigarettes.

Green tobacco sickness is also experienced among farmers and workers exposed to tobacco production. The manifestations are nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, abdominal cramps, changes in heart rates and blood pressure. They are exposed to nicotine especially when in direct skin contact to wet tobacco leaves.

On the structural and physical consequences, one-third of fire incidences around the world are caused by careless smoking.

Dulay stressed the need to cooperate in order to lessen the impact of cigar and cigarette smoking for better physical health and a better environment to live in. /PIA Benguet


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