Monday, October 2, 2023

Here’s How Quitting Smoking Benefits the Planet


There are a lot of ways people reduce their climate impact. And quitting smoking is one of them. Get started today with these tips.

You’re likely already familiar with the health benefits of smoking cessation. The American Cancer Society notes that you can see positive results as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette when your heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop. In a year, your shortness of breath will decrease. After five, your risk of illnesses like mouth cancer halves. If that’s not compelling enough, though, here’s another fact: quitting smoking will help you improve the environment.

Environmental benefits of quitting smoking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, more than 11 percent of U.S. adults were cigarette smokers; that’s about 28.3 million adults. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease as a result. But quitting can also have a big impact on the planet.

It decreases air pollution

The damage the puffs you take cause doesn’t stop at your lungs. Every time you exhale, you produce air particles that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. According to National Geographic, second-hand cigarette smoke is classified as an anthropogenic — or human-caused — source of air pollution. Quitting smoking will help you clear the air.

Photo courtesy haim charbit

It lowers your carbon footprint

Individual cigarette use does little to harm the environment. However, carbon footprints multiply exponentially on the industrial level. Carbon is the second most prominent ingredient in a cigarette after tobacco. It’s also produced in cigarette manufacturing, packaging, and transportation.

That’s because these processes use a lot of energy: the average tobacco company utilizes about 2,500 GHW, which is the amount of energy expenditure it takes to build approximately 2 million cars. By quitting, you won’t just lower your own carbon footprint — you may even help lessen the demand for and production of cigarettes to ease the tobacco industry’s carbon emissions.

It reduces the amount of toxic waste in the environment

When you think of ocean pollution, you’ll likely picture oil spills or plastic floating in the seas. However, after abandoned fishing gear, it’s cigarette butts that are the main source of pollution in bodies of water — to the point that countries like Monaco are concentrating much of their environmental conservation efforts on clean beach campaigns that prevent cigarette butt litter from devastating marine life.

woman beach
Photo by Polina Kuzovkova

Since most regular smokers consume multiple cigarettes a day, quitting can already ensure a large number of butts don’t leach chemicals into the environment. If you smoke a pack of 20 daily, you’ll save more than 7,000 butts from being thrown out within a year of quitting.

How to start quitting smoking today

The reason smoking is still so prevalent despite the many risks is, of course, because it’s addictive. Quitting isn’t easy, but there are some things that can help.

Use biodegradable nicotine products

You may experience withdrawal symptoms like tremors and headaches if you quit smoking cold turkey. By switching to biodegradable nicotine products like pouches and lozenges instead of vapes — which produce electronic waste — you can quit smoking gradually and avoid withdrawal symptoms without further harming the environment.

woman with pipe
Photo courtesy Grav

Nicotine pouches contain nicotine and food-grade flavorings. You park one between your upper lip and gum for nicotine absorption. If you are used to smoking menthol cigarettes, you can opt for ZYN Spearmint pouches. These pouches have a mint-like flavor similar to menthol cigarettes and are made of biodegradable, gluten- and lactose-free ingredients.

You can also try nicotine lozenges; these are hard, candy-like products that dissolve nicotine into your mouth so you don’t produce waste by consuming them. Nicorette nicotine lozenges come in 2mg and 4mg and are packaged in biodegradable cardboard.

Be selective with your foods and drinks

Quitting smoking can be hard, especially since effective strategies include exercising regularly, getting behavioral therapy, or attending support groups. Yet aside from switching to alternative nicotine products, another easy way you can start quitting today is by watching what you eat and drink.

woman at market
Courtesy Milada Vigerova | Unsplash

If you’re someone who previously took their cigarette with their coffee, you can replace your caffeine fix with tea to break the association between coffee and smoking. Picking a tea with a minty flavor like peppermint can particularly help invigorate your mouth and remind you how nice it is not to have smoke clogging up its interior.

Quit & Stay Quit Monday also recommends eating more fruits and vegetables to worsen the taste of cigarettes, boost your energy, and keep you full throughout the day to dampen cigarette cravings. Since meat-based diets also produce heavy carbon footprints, eating more plant-based foods will boost your efforts to help yourself and the environment at the same time.

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