World No-Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on May 31 and this year’s campaign motto is: “Tobacco is a threat to our environment.” The aim is to raise awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco throughout its production cycle and to invite people to quit smoking as a way to contribute to the protection of the environment.
This annual celebration is extremely important for tobacco control, as it provides a platform to raise public awareness of the dangers of tobacco use.
According to the Ministry of Health, from cultivation to final disposal, tobacco is associated with environmental damage such as deforestation, loss of biodiversity, contamination of water sources, forest fires, air pollution and the generation of solid and chemical waste.
The Pan-American Health Organization, reports around 600,000,000 trees are cut down for the manufacture of cigarettes and more than 84,000,000 metric tons of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere, which increases the temperature of the planet.
Based on data from the Observatory for the Surveillance of Health Strategies and Interventions for Compliance with Law 9028 (OVEIS), Costa Rica has shown a significant decrease in both the number of hectares dedicated to tobacco cultivation and the number of metric tons of tobacco produced.
In Costa Rica, the environmental impact generated by the tobacco cycle should be focused on the consumption and post-consumption stages, since these are the stages that generate the highest levels of contamination.
Cigarette stubs are among the most common waste collected on beaches, streets, sidewalks, public places and are one of the main causes of soil and marine ecosystem contamination.
Unfortunately, around 75% of smokers throw cigarette remains on the ground, even in public places. According to the WHO, up to two thirds of every cigarette smoked ends up on the ground, and a single cigarette butt can contaminate up to 50 liters of drinking water.
Last Saturday, May 28, as part of the “World No Tobacco Day” celebration, the Ministry of Health, the School of Public Health of the University of Costa Rica and the ONE SEA Foundation promoted a massive cigarette collection campaign throughout the country.
This activity was joined by 12 other organizations committed to environmental issues, including municipalities, Red Cross Youth, and environmental groups from different parts of the country.
The event took place in 9 points of the country, including urban areas: Curridabat, San José, Desamparados, Ciudad Quesada and Tamarindo beach, Hermosa, Junquillal, El Carmen and Herradura.
Participants in the campaign were informed about the environmental impact caused by cigarettes and promoted the proper disposal and management of this waste.
After the recollection activity, it became evident that tobacco consumption occurs on beaches and parks. The Ministry of Health hopes to ensure, with the aid of the Costa Rican population, beaches, parks and other tourist and recreational sites remain spaces 100% free of tobacco smoke and vaping.