Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don't Be a Human Smokestack

At least Shea has heard me rant before about why I find it irritatingly hypocritical when environmentalists smoke. I will quickly address my previously discussed two reasons and then venture onto a new one I found yesterday in an article online.

1) The Right to Clean Air: To support the right to clean air (i.e. clean from pollution) while simultaneously smoking is hypocritical. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes (including many known carcinogens); even worse, about 3,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer each year because of second-hand smoke. If the factory can't pollute the air, you shouldn't either. Yes, the scale may be different, but one must practice what one preaches.

For more smoking and cancer facts, go to the National Cancer Institute site.

2) Economics and Agriculture: Basically, you are giving money to the tobacco industry, which CLEARLY does not care about your health and well-being, and you are also continuing the process of growing the tobacco plant on land that could have been potentially used for other crops. Use your money wisely.

But butts (cigarette butts, that is) make up a new point.

According to a recent article in Eco Salon, cigarette butts account for 1.7 billion pounds of non-biodegradable trash in the Western World: 250 billion butts in the US, 200 tons in the UK, over 7 billion butts in Australia plus the rest of Europe.

In most Western countries, this accounts for 50% of all litter. This litter can seep into the ground and into our waterways, and in light of the aforementioned discussion of carcinogens, this is a scary thought.

A few weeks ago in the NY Times, there was an article about how the mayor of San Fran is considering a tax on cigarettes for just this reason: the need to clean up the butts. Just as San Fran has pioneered with other environmental issues, I would hope this becomes successful.

And one more thing... the best reason why an environmentalist shouldn't smoke: The world needs you. (Photo)


  1. the times wrote another article about cigarette butts piling up... apparently cigarette companies want to create biodegradable filters? greenwashing at it's finest... but cigarette butts constitute 28-33% of all litter (by number not by volume). here's the address:

  2. The closest thing that I have seen to a a clean version is this smoke-free cigarette: Interesting concept (in terms of avoiding second hand smoke and trash), but you're still smoking.

  3. well the main point of this article was that smokers tend to think that cigarettes are biodegradable (wrong. the filter is the only non-biodegradable part) but more importantly, dangerous chemicals are being littered on the ground (and in the air and in your lungs...)

  4. whatever happened to pipes? that'd take away the filter issue. But Jon said it best "the best reason for an environmentalist not to smoke: the world needs you."


  5. I too take issue with this; I also find it a little hypocritical when environmentalists smoke pot, but that's an issue for another time.

    Plus cigarette butts seem like they're more often on the street than landfills, so you'd think an issue like this would bring about support for anti-smoking campaigns from city beautification activists.