Here's a question for you: Are smoking bans a good for our planet? Your first response, assuming you're not a smoker, is uh - of course! Well, not so fast.
Indoor smoking bans are actually wreaking havoc on our environment. Smokers are flocking outdoors and leaving cigarette buts on sidewalks. The filter of the cigarette is made out of condensed cellulose acetate that is thinner than sewing threads and is not bio-degradable. Typically wind and rain carry the cigarette left casually on city streets into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals from the cigarette filter leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening the quality of the water and many aquatic lifeforms. Cigarette butts may seem small, but with several trillion butts littered every year, the toxic chemicals add up.
Another mounting issues is as smokers move to the outdoors, business' feel the need to accommodate these patrons. In the UK for example, during the cold weather months, patio heater were installed and used approximately 237 days. Sounds all good right ? Wrong. These heaters will produce 282,000 tons of emissions this year - a 260,000 ton increase over pre-ban numbers. Environmental groups are in an uproar that such smoking bans should not comprise the health of the environment for the health of the individual.
Thirty five different US states have some kind of smoking ban in place and more than fifty different countries also ban smoking in one way or another. As the numbers continue to grow, new concerns for the environmental impact of such initiatives rise to the surface. Smart smoking bans that combine consumer health with environmental awareness need to be enacted - or both, might just go up in smoke.