Do Your Part for Mother Earth, Quit Smoking
It’s no secret that tobacco is toxic to humans…But have you ever stopped to think about what those cigarettes are doing to the Earth?
While smoking has lost its foothold in popular culture as the “cool thing” to do, cigarette smoking is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the US and is responsible for more than 400,000 death a year. People know it kills and yet, cigarette users struggle with addictive nicotine, withdrawal symptoms, and missing the ritual of the habit of smoking. In the end, many smokers figure they are only hurting themselves.
Well, that’s not quite true. Surprisingly, many of us don’t know that quitting smoking is another way to help combat climate change, by significantly reducing the incredible amount of waste and litter due to discarded cigarettes butts in streets, waterways, and public areas.
What cigarettes leave behind in the environment…
- Litter: While the world has been told often that Big Tobacco isn’t their friend, it is less known that cigarettes also play a major role as hazardous waste in our already overextended environment. Joe Camel is not eco-friendly. Cigarette butts represent the most prevalent form of litter collected across the world. According to data from the Ocean Conservancy, in 2009 more than 3 million cigarettes or butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup, including more than 1 million from U.S. beaches alone, making it by far the most littered item.
- Soil Degradation: We know that tobacco kills people, but do we ever wonder about the fragile ecosystems that are also affected by the toxins in these tobacco products? Tobacco growing leads to soil degradation; the wood used in the curing of tobacco can contribute to deforestation; and pesticides used to produce tobacco crops, which can harm the environment.
- Deforestation: On the climate front, which most people believe to be the biggest environmental threat facing the planet, cigarette production and consumption contribute to global warming. For example, deforestation, in order to grow tobacco and provide wood for curing it, means fewer trees available to absorb carbon dioxide.
What it takes to leave behind cigarette smoking…
Quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of their life. Stopping smoking is tough but it’s easier when you’re not trying to do it all by yourself. Your support system wants to help you successfully quit. More than that, your support system is wider than you may initially count.
- Your Doctor – Your doctor or another healthcare provider can be a key resource as you’re trying to quit smoking. They can talk to you about medications to help you quit and put you in contact with local resources.
- Your Family and Friends – Someone who feels supported is more likely to quit smoking for good. That’s why friends, family members, and significant others can play a big part in helping a person become smoke-free. Communicate with them your goal and let them help you. If it’s by offering kind words, distractions, or just by knowing not to offer you a smoke the next time you’re out together, having your people on your side will make all the difference.
- Support Groups -There are all kinds of options both in real life and online to find a community of people who are working on the difficult task of long term of cigarette smoking. For example, Quitter’s Circle is a smoking cessation initiative with millions of users on its online platform. They celebrate smoke-free milestones and offer regular support through articles, check-ins, and a responsive forum.
Quitting smoking is a journey, not an event. It’s good to know what to expect to create a plan for yourself. Managing stress is key to this process, as well as being aware of your triggers, and replacing old habits with new ones. Some quitters use medication. The seven FDA-approved medications include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhaler, and nasal spray as well as varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban). Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations. The medications help with withdrawal symptoms, urges and cravings, but do not help with the habit or with managing stress or negative emotions. Others find Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) very effective. It uses products that supply low doses of nicotine. These products do not contain many of the toxins found in smoke. Vaping offers a way to use NRT and replace the physical habit of smoking. A vape starter kit includes everything – a vaping device, smaller amounts of nicotine, and different flavors of vape liquid. Choose a date. Committing to a start date adds structure to your plan. Choose a date within the next two weeks. This gives you time to prepare and start on a day that isn’t stressful, important, or would otherwise lead you to smoke.
Know your Reasons
Outside of the health benefits associated with quitting smoking like lowering the likelihood of lung cancer, high blood pressure, and emphysema – identify your real reasons. Is it for you? Are you excited to be free of addictive nicotine? How will you spend the money you used to spend on expensive cigarettes? How will being free of that smell and addiction schedule affect your day to day life? What will it mean to the environment to have one less person contributing to the overwhelming litter of smoking? Be the change you wish to see in this world. Make a plan to start your journey to the end of smoking.
Article written for WhosGreenOnline.com by Stacey Shannon, Minnesota based content writer, very passionate about living in balance and living green. Creative spirit, loves to travel and learn. Through her work, Stacey wants to to help people learn how to improve quality of their living and how to be more kind to our environment.