June 5th, 2016 is World Environment Day, an internationally-celebrated annual event run by the United Nations Environment Programme. This global campaign is designed to raise awareness, and motivate action, around issues that impact our environment on a local, national and world-wide scale.
Here at Highbrow Vapor, we're all about producing clean, satisfying e-liquids that provide adults with an alternative to smoking traditional tobacco-based products like cigarettes, and as a family-owned and managed business, we're dedicated to providing our future generations with a healthy, livable environment.
So, with World Environment Day just around the corner, we decided to take a closer look at the environmental impact of cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco, and how the production of 'traditional' smoking products impacts our natural resources such as drinking water, soil and air.
Sure, It's A Plant, But Is It Really All That Natural?
Tobacco advocates claim that since tobacco is an age-old plant that's been cultivated for centuries by indigenous peoples, it's obviously good for the environment.
Unfortunately, modern commercial tobacco production has very little in common with how folks grew the plant hundreds of years ago - in fact, tobacco farming is now considered by many to be one of the most destructive, and toxic, types of agriculture in the world today.
According to the World Health Organization, "in many tobacco growing countries, evidence indicates irreparable environmental damage from tobacco agriculture".
So, what's so bad about commercial tobacco production?
Tobacco is what's known as a mono-crop - that means that once a field is used to grow tobacco, no other crops will be planted there. This leads to serious soil damage because it depletes the ground of natural nutrients, creating an increased demand for artificial fertilizers to keep the crops growing. Many responsible farmers now practice crop rotation (planting a different crop each year) to protect the land, but in the high-stakes world of tobacco farming, profits always take precedence.
The other big deal with mono-cropping is that is leaves the plants vulnerable to attack by fungus and pests, requiring massive applications of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides - products that are known to "harm birds and other small animals," and even "known to cause ozone depletion".
Another big environmental concern linked with commercial tobacco production is the tremendous resources it takes to actually cure the tobacco for use in cigarettes. According to the World Health Organization, "in Southern Africa alone, an estimated 140,000 hectares of woodlands disappear annually into the fires necessary to cure tobacco, accounting for approximately 12% of deforestation in the region". Wow.
And that's not to mention the tremendous amount of waste produced by all those non-biodegradable cigarette butts that are littering our nations' parks, waterways and natural spaces....
So, this World Environment Day, you can feel good about choosing to ditch those dirty, environmentally-harmful cigarettes and enjoy a nice, litter-free vape!