Forget health hazards, cigarettes pose major threat to fragile environment in J&K
20: Experts have warned that hazardous
substances found in the cigarette butts including cadmium, arsenic and lead are
killing fragile environment in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Cigarette filters are made of cellulose
acetate, which is a form of synthetic fiber, resistant to biodegradation and
that can persist in the environment for generations,” said Dr Arshid Jahangir,
Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, University of
Dr Jahangir noted
that when the butts, which consist of un-smoked remnant tobacco, the filter of
cigarettes and paper wrap, leaches out toxic chemicals in the environment.
carelessly, it leaches out toxic chemicals in the environment, thus
contaminating it with heavy metals and over 4,000 poisonous chemicals like
nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nicotine and many more,” he
however, asserted that no detailed study has been carried out on the subject
matter at Kashmir University so far.
professor at SKAUST, wishing not be named, said the cigarette butts are carried
as runoff from streets to drains to rivers; these butts leach heavy chemicals
in water bodies.
“It also affects
aquatic species. Cigarette and bidi butts thrown carelessly after use are a
common cause of forest and residential fires and a threat to life, property and
forest lands,” he said.
Dr Naveed Ahmad
Shah, Head, Chest Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, noted that cellulose acetate
filter attached to most manufactured cigarettes, a form of plastic, is slow to
can prove to be a hazardous solid waste,” Dr Naved said.
Coordinator Jammu and Kashmir State Tobacco Control Cell Dr Mohammed Naser said
there have been many public discourses on the health impacts of tobacco use.
“However, its effect on the environment has come up for scant discussion,” he
Dr Naser said
stricter implementation of laws on public smoking will not only improve public
health but also restrict the environmental damage caused from cigarette use.
According to the
official data of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) accessed by The Kashmir
Monitor, 23.7 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir is using tobacco products
in one form or the other.
Over 20.8 percent
are in the grip of smoking while rest are addicted to smokeless tobacco use, as
per the figures. Similarly, the valley
has recorded tobacco sales worth Rs 5,530 crore over last seven years.
According to WHO,
tobacco kills seven million people each year. Its cultivation, processing,
production and disposal also harm the ecology immensely. Tobacco smoke
emissions spew thousands of tonnes of human carcinogens, toxic substances and
greenhouse gases into the environment. Cigarette butts and other tobacco waste
make up the largest number of individual pieces of litter in the world.