Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you follow the news, then you probably know that the smoking has been officially banned in public places. Indeed, if a restaurant owner allows smoking in his or her establishment, they may be fined up to 1 million L.L., and if an individual is found in violation of this law, they may be fined up to 100,000 L.L. The World Health Organization supports this, as do many other health activists. Indeed, it is predicted that fewer people will be affected by second-hand smoke, and that more people will be less motivated to smoke if they have fewer opportunities to do so.  However, one aspect of this law which has yet to be discussed is how smoking affects us environmentally, and the improvements that can ensue.  We know what smoking does to our bodies, but few know what smoking does to the Earth. So here we go!

It is fairly obvious that smoking pollutes the air and quite often the ground; after all, how often do you walk and see cigarette butts on the sidewalk or on a dirt road? However, this type of pollution is far more dangerous than we assume. Cigarettes contain over 4000 carcinogenic chemicals which are exhaled and released into the air and the atmosphere.  The cigarette butts that are thrown away also contain chemicals which enter our eco-system, and they take 1-5 years to decompose. Knowing that ~ 60% of Lebanese are smokers, think of the amount of cancer-causing toxins that are released into the air daily. We inhale these toxins, whether we like it or not. Not only does this affect our health, but it also affects that of animals and vegetation. After all, the quality of air is diminished, making it difficult for our plants to thrive, and our animals get sick, too. Nor are these chemicals released into the air exclusively.  Courtesy of the cigarettes butts, the improper disposal of garbage, and the fact that particles can only permeate in the air for so long and eventually settle, cigarette toxins also leak into our soil and infiltrate our waters. As such our water supply ends up polluted. We drink this water, feed our livestock with it, and water our vegetables and fruits with it. Using such contaminated water leads to a variety of health problems, cancer not being the least of them.  

In terms of cigarette production, the amount of environmental harm done in the name of smoking is phenomenal. Think about it. Because it’s a cash crop, trees are cut down and destroyed in order to make space for farming use. When it’s planted, tobacco is sprayed with pesticide, which leaks into the soil and water, and is harmful for you to inhale. But there is more. Think about the paper production. For every three hundred cigarettes produced, an entire tree is destroyed. That large carton of cigarettes you bought at the airport has over a tree’s worth of paper. On a grand scale, roughly 6.43737 km of paper are used PER HOUR  in order to roll and package cigarettes.  While we may not produce cigarettes in Lebanon, think about the amount of harm we do to the environment globally when we smoke. This is on top of the damage smoking does to your health and your immediate environment!!

With this new law, you will be protected in more ways than one. At the level of personal health, you will be protected from inhaling second-hand smoke. At the level of the environment, there will be fewer toxins in your air, soil, and water. Hopefully there will be fewer cigarette butts littering the streets.  If fewer people purchase cigarettes due to this law, there will be less environmental damage done worldwide in terms of deforestation for the purpose of growing and packaging cigarettes. Lebanon, this is a sign of progress for both our health and our environment. This law is awesome! Well done, Lebanon!!

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