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smoking and the environment

Do you know that smoking can damage the environment?

If you look closely at the top right hand corner of the Shane and Sally game, you will see some of the effects that the tobacco industry has on the environment.

Ask yourself:

  • How are cigarettes made?
  • What effect does growing tobacco have on the environment?
  • Does drying or curing tobacco have any impact on the environment?
  • How much paper is used in the production of cigarettes?

 You will find the answers to these questions below.

Shane and Sally
Cigarette Production
Cigarettes are made from the dried leaves of the tobacco plant. These leaves are wrapped in paper and a filter is added.
Growing Tobacco

Tobacco is grown in many countries including Australia, however it is most often grown in poorer countries. Growing tobacco affects the soil, as it uses soil nutrients faster than many other crops. In order to maintain soil fertility these nutrients need to be replaced with fertilisers. Many farmers in poorer countries can not afford to buy fertilisers so often tobacco is grown until the soil is no longer fertile. Then new areas have to be found to grow these crops (often through deforestation).

Tobacco crops need to be regularly and heavily sprayed for pests and disease. The misuse of pesticides can affect the health of the farmers and there is the risk that chemicals can leak into community water supplies.

Tobacco crops are often grown instead of food crops especially in poorer countries. In some of these countries food is already in short supply.

Curing Tobacco
The leaves of the tobacco plant need to be dried or cured before they can be used in making cigarettes. Drying tobacco can be done by air, sun, fire or circulated heat. The fastest way to cure tobacco is to use fire or circulated heat. When curing by fire or circulated heat the green leaf must be kept at high temperatures for about one week. Whilst coal, gas or oil can be used, most poorer countries can only afford to use wood. In order to provide this wood, large areas of forest are cut down. Each year nearly 600 million trees are destroyed to provide fuel to dry tobacco. Put in another way one tree is destroyed for every 300 cigarettes.
Cigarettes require large amounts of paper for their manufacturing and packaging. Modern cigarette manufacturing machines use six kilometres of paper per hour.

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