United Nations, Sep 5: From deforestation to soil degradation and pollution, tobacco production and its use by consumers, is “tremendously destructive” for the environment, although control measures can help curb its negative environmental effects, including the damaging impact of climate change, the head of the UN tobacco control treaty watchdog – formally known as the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC - has told UN News.
The World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which is celebrating the 15th anniversary of it being adopted this year – is a global health treaty that advocates for the control of tobacco production, sale and use, as a way of reducing tobacco-related illnesses, deaths, environmental degradation and poverty across the world.
“People often immediately think of the health impact that tobacco has, but there is not enough awareness of how tremendously destructive it is for the environment too, on land, under water and in the air,” said Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, the Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat.
According to a report by the Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the noxious effects of tobacco on the environment begin with the pre-production process, as a particularly high amount of deforestation occurs not only to create space for tobacco farming, but also because a lot of timber is required for the drying process of tobacco leaves after they are harvested.
Estimates show that tobacco farming causes up to five per cent of global deforestation, with 200,000 hectares of natural wood biomass loss each year. (UNI)