Highlighting the environmental impact of tobacco: WHO FCTC Secretariat partnerships, campaigns and resources
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Worls Health Organization, FCTC Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
Environmental Technology Department, Centre of Environmental Policy, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Washington, United States
Belgian Alliance for Smoke Free Society, Brussels, Belgium
Alliance contre le tabac (ACT), Paris, France
6, Madrid, Spain
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A2
This year’s theme for World No Tobacco Day is ‘Tobacco: a threat to the environment’ with a focus on the immense environmental damage caused by tobacco cultivation, production, distribution, consumption and waste, such as cigarette butts and electronic waste. Globally, more than six trillion cigarettes are produced annually, each containing filters, or butts, that are mainly composed of microplastics known as cellulose acetate fibers. Tobacco product waste (TPW) such as cigarette butts are the most common pollutants globally and pose a significant threat to human health and ecosystems due to the release of microplastics and hazardous chemicals. An estimated 0.77 million metric tons of cigarette butts are deposited annually into the environment. Tobacco’s total environmental footprint is comparable to that of entire countries and its production is often more environmentally damaging than that of essential commodities such as food crops. For the six trillion cigarettes manufactured annually, 32.4 Mt of green tobacco are cultivated on 4 million ha of arable land and are then processed into 6.48 Mt of dry tobacco worldwide. Globally, the tobacco supply chain contributes almost 84 Mt CO2 eq emissions to climate change, 0.49 million tons of 1,4-DB eq to ecosystem ecotoxicity levels, over 22 billion m3 to water and 21 Mt oil eq to fossil fuel depletion annually. Additional pollution from novel products including e-cigarettes and vapes will increase the amount of electronic waste in cities and communities and lead to higher clean-up costs. To mitigate and reduce the amount of tobacco product waste, tobacco producers should ultimately be responsible under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for liability, economic costs, and providing information on environmental impacts of tobacco use. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has 182 Parties and is the first public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Article 18 of the WHO FCTC addresses the need for due regard to the protection of the environment and the health of persons in relation to the environment in respect of tobacco cultivation and manufacture whilst Article 19 on liability touches on holding the tobacco industry liable for its abuses. This session, proposed by the WHO FCTC Secretariat, aims at presenting to delegates the serious impact of tobacco value chain on our environment, providing them with information to build a case for advocacy initiatives, and sharing success stories at regional and national levels.