Smoking poisons our lungs and our planet, warns local charity this Earth Day

Smoking is known to cause severe health risks, including cancer, but it is not only people that smoking hurts: smoking is also damaging for the environment.

In addition to cigarette litter – with an estimated 12 billion cigarette butts dropped on streets globally every day – tobacco causes environmental harm across its entire supply chain, according to the World Health Organization. According to the WHO’s 2022 report “Tobacco: Poisoning Our Planet,” the global production and consumption of tobacco leads each year to 22 billion tonnes of water use, 2 million tonnes of packaging waste, 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and 200,000 hectares of cleared and deforested land. This includes the 3.7 litres of water used to make each single cigarette. Together, these harms contribute to air pollution, water contamination, land degradation, and climate change. Furthermore, the cultivation of tobacco exposes farmers to several environmental and health risks.

Speaking this Earth Day, Naomi Thompson, the Health Improvement Manager at Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, comments: “There are so many reasons why someone should stop smoking. If not for their own health, then for the health of those around them or for the planet. Smokers are 4x more likely to quit with the help of a stop smoking support service, and we are proud as a charity to help connect people to the right service and tools for them. If you are a smoker and you are considering quitting, please reach out.”

Naomi adds: “We remain encouraged by the discussions around a Smokefree Generation that are happening at our Assembly and across the UK, including the vote last week in the UK House of Commons. Tobacco is poisoning our lungs and our planet. It is great to see action being taken to protect future generations from these harms.”

To learn more and get support in quitting tobacco, visit or call the Cancer Focus NI Nurseline at 0800 783 3339 for information and signposting.