As If You Need Another Reason To Quit

by Emily Carr on Friday, February 4, 2011 in Features

It’s the first week in February. By now, over 90% of New Year’s resolutions have come and gone. Many people take on weight loss or other healthy habits; quitting smoking is another popular resolution. According to, if the only tactic you employ is to make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking, then your odds of success during 2011 are about 1 in 20. 

There is no denying that quitting is a tough battle. Personal health should be enough of a reason to quit, but what you may not know is that there are also compelling environmental reasons to quit smoking.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, is general air quality. Smoking doesn’t just pollute the air going into your lungs, but also the air quality for those around you.  Secondhand smoke kills approximately 3,000 non-smokers a year (, and cigarette smoke contains up to 4,000 chemicals. And in 2004, a small Italian study lead by Giovanni Invernizzi from the Tobacco Control Unit of Italy’s National Cancer Institute in Milan found that air pollution that comes from cigarettes is 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust. (Click here for more information about that study from the New Scientist).

Cigarettes are also the number one littered item worldwide. A 2008 survey called the Keep America Beautiful Pocket Ashtray Study included over 1,000 smokers and found that 35% litter five or more cigarette butts per pack on the ground. This is an incredibly effective way of spreading the chemicals, many of which are toxic pesticides such as DDT, Aldrin, and Methyl bromide into the ground and into our water supply. For more information on pesticides in cigarettes, view the following article:

And cigarettes create a tremendous waste of resources; deforestation is the most direct environmental repercussion of cigarettes, with nearly 12.5 million acres of forest are destroyed each year to provide trees to cure tobacco. That’s about a tree every two weeks for the average smoker. Wood is used in almost every step of production–curing tobacco, wrapping the leaves with paper, and boxing them up with cardboard. For every 300 cigarettes, one tree is consumed.

So if you’ve failed so far on this resolution, or haven’t taken it up at all, please give it a second thought. If not for your family or for yourself, do it for sustainability’s sake.