Not only are cigarettes bad for you but they are also hard on the planet. Tobacco as a crop is prone to disease and insects love to eat it so it is constantly sprayed with various chemicals and pesticides. These end up in the environment, as well as your body, and pollute soil and water. Common pesticides that are used in Tobacco insect control include DDT, Aldrin and Dieldrin, which are not allowed on food crops but can be used on the stuff you smoke. Nice to know your lungs are full of DDT, no? But these horrible chemicals also contribute significantly to ozone depletion. As I already noted, they seep into the local water supply, not good for those living on these tobacco plantations or in neighboring villages.
The production of tobacco crops uses more than six kilometers of paper per hour, which equals about 600 million trees a year. Consider that fact the next time you are signing a petition on rainforest destruction while having a smoke. And did you know that even the filters are bad for the environment? They are not biodegradable and they end up in the landfill and in garbage piles everywhere for decades. Since butts are the single most littered item in the U.S. and worldwide, cigarettes may be, in fact, the least environmentally friendly item out there.
So if you are a smoker and you do not want to quit smoking but would like to be more eco friendly, there are some alternatives. However, I will warn you right up front that by switching to more planet friendly cigarettes, you are exposing your body to more damage than you do now. Why is this the case? I will show you. There are such things as organic cigarettes. The American indians have been making them for years and they market them under the American Spirit 100% Natural brand. Other organic choices include Treasurer Cigarettes from Germany and Djarum Cigarettes made in Indonesia that include Clove Cigarettes, Ecstasy Herbal blends and Organic Special Lights. The problem is that when you go to Organic Tobacco you may be getting past a lot of chemicals and toxins in the growing process but you are also ending up with a stronger, more potent Tobacco so your nicotine addiction may go up and your health may suffer in other ways as well.
There is also such a thing as an additive free cigarette, which reduces the chemicals and toxins in the cigarettes as well as taking them out of the manufacture process. Like organic Tobacco, additive free cigarettes reduce the amount of toxic soup that results from making cigarettes. But, once again, the reduction of additives in the actual cigarettes results in more hard core Tobacco in each cigarette, in turn upping your intake of nicotine again. Using additive free cigarettes does not make smoking safer or healthier and can make you even more addicted. In the long run, there is some benefit to the planet, however, so if you choose to switch over, there are some popular brands to explore.
Most additive free cigarettes are made in India and the most popular brand is called Bidis. These are very tasty, fun cigarettes that are also considered potent and deadly. They are free of additives and are mostly organic but they are also high in nicotine content and pack a powerful punch. American Spirit also makes an additive free cigarette. And the most popular one available today is still Winston cigarettes made by RJ Reynolds. These cigarettes are all additive free, meaning that they contribute less toxins to the environment.. and to your lungs.. but they are not safer for you. Again, the absence of additives adds to the amount of Tobacco in each cigarette, making these smokes more potent and more addictive than others.
And then no good eco article about tobacco would be worth it’s ink if it didn’t mention the famous “e-cigarette”. The electronic cigarette is made by a Smoking Everywhere. This cool contraption looks, feels and tastes like a traditional cigarette, but it isn’t a traditional cigarette. It’s just a a tar-free way to enjoy smoking! It is actually an electronic smoking device (electronic cigarette) which is also non –flammable. The product uses micro-electronic technology which provides smokers a real “smoking” experience without the fire, flame, tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide, ash, stub or smell found in real cigarettes. Sound cool? Well it is, sort of. But is it healthier? Not really. The smokers still get their nicotine, but don’t get the side effects attributable to tar, which seems to be the most destructive element in cigarettes. They are always saying that it is tar in the lungs which causes cancer, right? But again, these e cigarettes are still addictive and cause the same health issues that nicotine does in regular cigarettes, including high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, vasoconstriction and stimulation of the nervous system.
I must admit that the E Cigarette is earth friendly in that there is no residue to the environment during the smoking process. However, there are environmental issues that arise in their manufacture, as they are made of plastic and until we have a pile of them in the waste pipeline, we will not know how their disposal will effect our eco systems. Also, the nicotine mix is loaded with chemicals and how this effects the body is still to be seen. I can say that these e-smokes are a bit more green than most cigarettes but what they do to your health is yet to be seen. When they are made on a grand scale and disposed of on the scale of regular cigarettes we will be better able to measure their impact on our world. However, there are some big considerations when it comes to this smoking option. The product is free of tar & other chemical substances which is produced in traditional cigarettes. It is a non-flammable product (It does contain a lithium battery which carries certain explosion risks if ignited) and it lacks the second-hand smoke that accompanies traditional cigarettes. Subsequently, they produce no second hand smoke and they are reusable (rechargeable by an electric outlet or car charger) so there is no problem with disposing of cigarette buds or ashes. In these areas, they get big greenie points.
The jury is still out on e cigarettes and the consensus on organic and additive free smokes is that they are not healthier or safer than their ugly sisters. But they do provide an alternative option for the person who doesn’t want to quit smoking but would like to reduce their footprint on the planet. Ultimately, it will be up to the smoker to decide what they enjoy and what works for them. In a future post I am going to tear cigarettes apart and give you guys a peek inside. If nothing else motivates you to quit, then perhaps a peek at the ugly stuffin’s will do it. Good health to all and here’s hopin’ you can quit smokin’!