When it comes to smoking, there is more than the monetary cost to consider. Smoking comes at a high cost to one’s health as well as the health of those around you. If you are a smoker, or you live with a smoker, this will be of value to you. We will also offer you some practical solutions (aside from the obvious – giving up smoking) that can help improve your environment, even in the presence of a smoker or as a smoker.
Harsh Truths About Smoking
In 2018, the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health was held in Cape Town. During this time, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Vital Strategies released what is called the Tobacco Atlas, which is a source of information aimed at uncovering the harm done by the tobacco industry.
As of May 2019, a box of 20 cigarettes in South Africa goes for between R28 and R45. For the purposes of this article, we will call the cost of an average pack of cigarettes to be R35.
- If you smoke 1 x pack of cigarettes per day, you spend R35
- That amounts to R245 per week and over R1,000 per month
- On an annual basis, an average pack of cigarettes smoked daily will cost you approximately R12,000. What would you do with R12,000 if you had it?
- You could pay a deposit on a car
- You could pay rent on a flat for a few months
- You could pay for six to twelve months’ school fees, depending on the area
- You could pay off four months’ worth of a R3,000 monthly repayment
- You could more than likely fill your car up for free every month if you had R12,000 spare
When it comes to the actual cost of cigarettes and the production of tobacco, it is a billion dollar industry that is making money off people who are actively damaging their health and wellbeing. These statistics have been provided via the Tobacco Atlas:
- Six of the world’s largest tobacco companies combined made more than $346 billion in 2016. This amount is 20% more than the Gross National Income of South Africa
- 12,900 metric tonnes of tobacco was produced in South Africa in 2014
But there is so much more to consider than the monetary cost of smoking. These are the relevant statistics affecting South Africans according to the Tobacco Atlas:
- More than 42,100 South Africans are killed by tobacco-caused disease every year
- More than 55,000 South African children, aged between 10 and 14 years old, use tobacco every day
- More than 6,321,000 South African adults older than 15 years of age continue to use tobacco each day
Quoting directly from the Tobacco Atlas: “The economic cost of smoking in South Africa amounts to R59.12 billion rand. This includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditures and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity.”
Environmental Impact Of Smoking
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the smoking of tobacco results in the emission of 2,600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and about 5,200,000 tonnes of methane.
Growing and curing tobacco contributes significantly to deforestation. Over 200,000 hectares of forest are lost to tobacco agriculture and curing every year.
Post-smoking also creates hazards for the environment as tobacco filters and cigarette butts litter beaches and natural environments all over the world. It is estimated that 175,200 tonnes of cigarette butts are discarded annually, most of which are non-biodegradable.
Practical Anti-Smoking Solutions
Needless to say, giving up smoking is the most practical solution that will not only benefit the smoker’s health, but also that of everyone around them. It will also have positive benefits for the environment. But giving up smoking aside, there are other ways that you can improve your immediate environment, even if there are smokers around.
- Create clear no smoking zones, especially inside homes, offices and vehicles where there is limited fresh air supply
- No smoking should ever be permitted indoors unless in a smoking pod
- Designated smoking areas should also house vital health warnings and information on the dangers of smoking for smokers and their peers
- Create pods with extractor fans for smokers in indoor areas
- Implement campaigns in the workplace where employees are challenged to stop smoking or at least reduce
- Implement campaigns where employees are visibly shown exactly how much physical damage smoking has on them and people around them
- Implement strict, limited smoke break policies in the workplace to avoid it interfering with productivity
- Demand suppliers create cigarettes with biodegradable filters that won’t leave a mark on the environment after use
- Demand suppliers create more sustainable practices when manufacturing cigarettes
If you or someone you love is a smoker… think about the real implications on your health and if you are willing to sacrifice that in exchange for a puff.