From the moment its seeds go into the ground to the moment its dried and shredded leaves are set alight by the world’s 1.1 billion smokers, tobacco leaves a trail of untold destruction, according to a story at dw.com.
Researchers from Imperial College London are said to have found that the industry’s annual carbon footprint is almost twice that of Wales.
“If we continue to grow tobacco crops to meet the demand, we’ll have huge environmental degradation,” Vinayak Prasad, head of the World Health Organization’s tobacco control program in Geneva was said to have told DW.
The story said that growing and curing tobacco accounted for more than 75 percent of tobacco’s carbon footprint.
But it required plenty of land, water and energy; as well as pesticides and fertilizers that polluted nearby rivers and groundwater, and degraded the soil.
The story conceded that the tobacco industry was a minor offender compared to the big names of global deforestation, such as the palm oil and soybean industries, but it went on to quote Sonja von Eichborn, director of the anti-tobacco non-governmental organization Unfairtobacco, as saying it “has a great impact at the local level, for instance in Tanzania”.
There, she said, tobacco was responsible for up to six percent of annual deforestation, a figure that looked set to increase.
In Pakistan, meanwhile, the WHO says plantations [presumably tobacco plantations] already account for almost 27 percent of yearly deforestation.