Home PH Important Day World No Tobacco Day 2022: Tobacco: Threat to our environment

World No Tobacco Day 2022: Tobacco: Threat to our environment

by Public Health Update

The World No Tobacco Day is celebrated each year on May 31. It was initiated in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.


  • An estimated 1.5 billion hectares of (mainly tropical) forests have been lost worldwide since the 1970s due to tobacco, contributing to up to 20% of annual greenhouse gas increase.
  • Trees are cut down to clear land for tobacco farming, in addition wood is burned for the curing of tobacco leaves after harvest. It takes approximately one entire tree, to make 300 cigarettes.
  • Approximately 200,000 hectares of land is cleared annually for tobacco growing and curing.
  • Tobacco farming accounts for about 5% of the total national deforestation, disproportionately affecting tobacco growing regions of the world, including Southern Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean.
  • Fertile land that could be used to grow nutritious crops is used for tobacco. The soil depletion caused by tobacco growing further contributes to food insecurity and nutrition challenges.
  • Rehabbing the soil after tobacco farming is costly. Based on data collected in 2014, it would cost 20.6 million USD to reverse the negative effects on soil in Bangladesh caused by one year of tobacco farming.
  • Desertification attributable to tobacco growing is now being seen within many countries including Brazil, India, Jordan, and Cuba.
  • Globally, the approximate weight of waste generated annually from the overall tobacco life cycle is approximately 25 million metric tons. 
  • E-waste in general is already an overwhelming problem, with 99 billion pounds discarded annually according to 2017 global estimates. 

World No Tobacco Day – Key messages

  • Tobacco harms the environment
  • Make the tobacco industry clean up their mess
  • Quit tobacco to save our planet
  • Help tobacco farmers switch to sustainable crops

Calls to Action

General public

  1. Give tobacco users an extra reason to quit. Quitting tobacco benefits your health and the environment.
  2. Support policy action around ban on single use plastics which include cigarette butts, smokeless tobacco pouches and electronic waste
  3. Raise awareness of the tobacco industry’s greenwashing tactics
  4. Support governments on additional levies/taxes on industry to protect the environment

Youth and future generations

  1. Advocate for 100% tobacco free schools to protect children and youth from exposure to direct, second-hand and third-hand smoke
  2. Start or join a movement to protect the environment. Raise awareness about the environmental impact of tobacco and sensitize the public, in particular the youth
  3. Support the reduction of chemicals, including the carbon footprint to protect the younger generation for the ill effects of environmental tobacco waste
  4. Reduce the number of tobacco retail stores

Ministries and policymakers

  1. Impose the EPR policy principle on the tobacco industry to hold them accountable for the cost of cleaning up TPW
  2. Impose an environmental tax levy on the tobacco manufacturers, distributors and the consumer, across the supply chain for carbon emissions, air pollution and other environmental costs.
  3. Implement tobacco control (MPOWER measures) to minimize the environmental impact of tobacco
  4. Support tobacco farmers to switch to alternative, sustainable livelihoods, in line with Art 17 and 18 of WHO FCTC
  5. Advise governments on how to leverage the COP of International Climate in Cairo in November 2022 to collaborate and advance the tobacco control agenda in line with World No Tobacco Day

NGOs and civil Society

  1. Raise awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco across the life cycle from cultivation, production, distribution, use and waste
  2. Showcase the tobacco waste problem in public spaces and communities
  3. Raise awareness of the benefits of switching to different crops and how it is linked to tobacco control more broadly
  4. Advocate for national bans on single use plastics
  5. Expose tobacco industry tactics and efforts to “greenwash” its reputation and products by marketing themselves as environmentally friendly

Tobacco farmers

  1. Switch to sustainable and environmentally friendly crops providing a greater return on investment in terms of health and wealth

Academia and intergovernmental organisations including UN agencies and development banks

  1. Collect data on water use, deforestation, and the lethal and environmentally degrading chemicals in tobacco products and the environmental harm of these components on soil, drinking water, human and animal health
  2. Estimate the total impact of tobacco product waste as well as the total environmental impact of one tobacco product
  3. Raise awareness of projects in tobacco growing countries, for example in Kenya where hundreds of farmers successfully switched to alternative crops, as well as deforestation and climate change projects in East Africa
  4. Raise awareness of the linkages between environmental impact of tobacco and health outcomes, linking it to adverse development outcomes
  5. Remind stakeholders that accelerated implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is an SDG 3A target.


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