Cigarette smoking is a concerning public health hazard. In fact, a World Economic Forum report revealed that tobacco use causes more than eight million deaths each year. Around seven million of those deaths result from direct tobacco use, while about 1.2 million are from exposure to secondhand smoke. Alarmingly, apart from directly affecting physical health, cigarette smoking can also indirectly impact lives since tobacco production, and consumption can negatively affect the environment. This can cause more widespread harm and destruction.
This article will break down exactly how cigarettes and tobacco impact the world around us and provide practical tips on kicking the habit for good:
How Cigarettes Affect the Environment
According to the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), tobacco cultivation is responsible for numerous environmental problems, including land and water pollution. Since tobacco plants are prone to many stubborn pests, tobacco farmers are forced to use pesticides to keep the plants safe and healthy. However, these pesticides contain harmful chemicals that seep into the soil and water. This situation can result in soil exhaustion, making it more difficult for farmers to cultivate the same land because the earth has already reached a point where it can no longer support plant life. When these same pesticides enter waterways, they can make the water toxic for plants and animals. Moreover, tobacco has a significant effect on air pollution while they are being smoked. As a matter of fact, ASH shared that cigarette smoking releases ten times as much particulate matter into the air as a diesel engine. For this reason, cigarette smoke and tobacco cultivation are among the main contributors to climate change.
As mentioned earlier, using pesticides on tobacco plants can lead to soil exhaustion. Because of this, tobacco growers must cut down trees and clear out forests to create new space for growing tobacco plants. Since tobacco leaves need to be cured or dried after being harvested, mainly by burning wood to heat the air, more trees are being used and burned to make tobacco cigarettes. It’s estimated that around 600 million trees are chopped annually to produce these tobacco products.
Tobacco equally produces a vast amount of waste. Notably, cigarette butts contain a significant amount of tar, which contains thousands of chemicals and heavy metals. According to the WHO, cigarette butts represent nearly two billion pounds of toxic trash annually. This figure is alarming because the chemical composition of these cigarette butts causes various diseases. These include inflammatory lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. This shows that tobacco products can cause negative impacts even until the end of their life cycle.
How to Quit Smoking
Now that you know the effects of tobacco use on the environment, you might be wondering how you can quit the habit and protect mother nature. Here are three ways you can do so.
Practice mindfulness methods
For many smokers, the habit of cigarette smoking is an almost automatic action. As such, practicing mindfulness can help you actively track and break smoking patterns. Furthermore, a study published on PubMed found that mindfulness methods can somewhat reduce perceived stress. With a more positive outlook, smokers are less likely to focus on their cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Alongside this, a less stressed mindset can help influence the adoption of healthier new habits that can take the place of smoking. A popular mindfulness activity is meditation since it can help calm and center. Popular meditation apps, such as Aura and Insight Timer, are great resources for those new to this practice. These apps can help reduce negative feelings associated with smoking cessation by featuring guided meditation exercises. This includes feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and irritation.
Use nicotine replacement products
Now, if you want a more science-backed aid to smoking cessation, you can use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products like nicotine pouches and patches. As seen in the best nicotine pouch brands featured on Prilla, these products are tobacco-free despite having controlled amounts of nicotine. Because of this, users can slowly reduce tobacco dependence without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, nicotine pouches are smoke-free and made with plant-based fibers, potentially less harmful to the environment once properly discarded. As mentioned, nicotine patches like Habitrol are another product that can help you quit smoking. They are also less likely to cause waste because they slowly release nicotine through the skin over several hours, reducing disposables’ use.
Seek social support
Finally, another effective smoking cessation method is to seek support from social groups. Because quitting a habit is tough, gaining social support can help strengthen your resolve and make you less susceptible to a relapse. Such groups can also help you reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms like loneliness or confusion. Online and offline support groups are both effective ways to find social support for smoking cessation. You can find help online through specialized websites such as QuitNet, or smoking cessation groups on Facebook or Reddit.
On the other hand, offline support groups can be reached through local hospitals and community centers. Nicotine Anonymous and Quitline are also popular options for in-person support groups. Alternatively, if you’d rather find a support group without a direct connection to smoking, casual classes or programs can also help. For instance, if you’re looking for a way to help the environment while also quitting smoking, you could try joining a local garden. In this way, you can help care for the local flora while also making valuable social connections.
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