Every stage of the commercial tobacco lifecycle affects human health, ecosystems, and the global climate. These impacts begin with the cultivation and processing of tobacco plants and extend through product disposal. Around the world, massive amounts of forest are removed to make way for tobacco farmland and to provide wood for tobacco curing. Commercial tobacco agriculture degrades soil, exposes workers to hazardous pesticides and nicotine poisoning, and contributes to food insecurity. Cigarette butts spread toxic substances and pollution into waterways. E-cigarettes, when discarded, present numerous environmental hazards, as they are composed of plastic, unrecyclable electronic waste such as lithium-ion batteries, and pesticide-like liquid poisons that spread easily in water.
Regulatory agencies, such as FDA, work to identify potential environmental impacts of commercial tobacco products while others, such as EPA, regulate potential harm by ensuring compliance with environmental protection laws. Presenters will provide an overview of the environmental issues related to tobacco farming, manufacturing, use, and disposal and then discuss a variety of policy solutions available to state and local governments.
Kyra Hill and Hudson Kingston, Public Health Law Center