Tobacco use is a well-documented threat to global health, and in the area of tobacco control, extensive work has been done to communicate the health risks of tobacco use and to reduce the demand for tobacco through effective policy interventions. What has been less discussed or documented are the environmental health risks of tobacco cultivation, production, distribution, consumption and waste. The harmful impact of the tobacco industry on the environment is vast and growing, and has thus far received relatively little attention from researchers and policy-makers.
The environmental consequences of tobacco use move it from being a human problem to a planetary problem. It is not just about the lives of tobacco users and those around them, or even those involved in tobacco production. Tobacco can no longer be categorized simply as a health threat – it is a threat to human development as a whole.