A cigarette has damaging effects from the time the tobacco is grown until it is smoked and thrown away.
Impact on Food Production and Health: The growing of tobacco means that less land is available for food crops. While some food is grown between crops of tobacco, it has been estimated that food crops grown instead of tobacco could feed between 10 and 20 million people!
Inequality: In 2002, the CEO of Phillip Morris made $3.2 million in salary and bonuses. It would take a tobacco farmer in Brazil 2,140 years to earn this much!
Child labour and Schooling: About 43 percent of tobacco plantations in Africa employ children directly, while 46 percent employ them as casual labourers. The children of tobacco farmers often miss school because of working on the plantations. In countries like Malawi, children might never go to school at all because they have to work.
Green tobacco sickness: Tobacco leaves are harvested by hand. People who harvest tobacco leaves absorb the nicotine through their skin, causing a variety of symptoms including vomiting, dizziness, headaches and difficulty breathing, just to name a few.
Diversification: Because of the high costs of fertilisers, pesticides and labour, tobacco farming is actually less profitable than many food crops. In developed countries like Canada, farmers have been moving away from growing tobacco and into other, more profitable crops.
Industry response: British American Tobacco (BAT) claims that they have replanted 267,000 hectares of forests since the 1970s. This, however, is equal to the amount of forests chopped down for tobacco plantations in Southern Africa in only 2 years!
Pesticides : The tobacco plant is very sensitive and prone to disease. Huge amounts of fertiliser and pesticides are required throughout growth in order to preserve and protect the crop. Because tobacco is not a food crop, there is little monitoring about the use of such chemicals and they can find their way into the local water supply, affecting local crops and wildlife.
Deforestation: One in eight trees cut down in the world is due to tobacco growing or curing (drying). Forests are cleared to grow tobacco, but it is the cutting down of trees for fuel to dry tobacco that is a major cause of deforestation. Tobacco is cured for cigarettes by using heat through burning wood. It takes one tree to cure enough tobacco for 300 cigarettes. As a result, nearly nine million acres of forests are lost each year
Fire : Cigarettes and matches were the most common cause of deadly house fires in the UK in 2005.
Pollution: 2,700 tonnes of cigarette litter is dropped on Londons streets alone each year. This is the equivalent of 6,750 million cigarette ends. Many people believe that cigarette filters are biodegradable and made of cotton they are not. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that takes more than 10 years to biodegrade.
Impact on Wildlife : Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other sea creatures, who mistake them for food.