The World Health Organization (WHO) and STOP, a global tobacco watchdog, have called on nations to ban the tobacco industry’s greenwashing activities responsible for the release of more than 80 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, and the most polluted object in the world, cigarette butts.

In a report last week, they shed light on the massive environmental damage caused by tobacco companies and how the industry is “greening” its products and operations to appear eco-friendly.



The term “greenwashes” refers to a form of misinformation published by an organization to appear environmentally friendly and is common practice in many industries.

Calling for action, the report, “Talking Trash: Behind the Tobacco Industry’s agreen Public Relations,” said governments and the public around the world should be aware that greenwashing by the tobacco industry is on the rise and must be fought.

Despite industry attempts to improve its image, smoking remains a leading cause of premature death and a major cause of environmental damage.

Governments that are parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) also have an obligation to exclude industry from any engagement or influence on health policy, no matter how forcefully. the industry is trying to green its image.

“WHO and STOP call on all governments, especially those that are parties to the FCTC, to ban industry greenwashing activities, as they are a central part of so-called corporate CSR and marketing campaigns. industry, aiming at the renormalization of the industry, which tends to circumvent article 5.3.

“Parties are obligated to terminate industry CSR under the FCTC, so unlike other industries, there is a mechanism in place to help governments prevent tobacco industry greenwashing. “, says the report.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day which falls on May 31, the report exposes the tobacco industry’s destructive practices that affect the environment as well as its greenwashing tactics, and shows ways to restrict these practices through policy measures and awareness campaigns.

The harmful environmental impact of tobacco is often ignored by the public and intentionally minimized by the tobacco industry.

Scientific studies have also shown that the entire life cycle of a single cigarette has a contribution to climate change of up to 14 grams of CO2 equivalent.

Tobacco growing and curing are also direct causes of deforestation. An estimated 1.5 billion hectares of (mostly tropical) forests have been lost globally since the 1970s, contributing up to 20% of the annual increase in greenhouse gases.

Approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded worldwide each year, making them the most dumped item on earth and the most common litter on beaches.

Additionally, recent research published by the Truth Initiative shows that the chemicals leaking from a single cigarette butt (soaked for 24 hours in a liter of water) release enough toxins to kill 50% of fish in the world. saltwater and freshwater exposed there for 96 years. hours.

Even with such statistics, with relatively few in-depth studies undertaken, the true environmental impact of tobacco is unknown, the report states.

In India, a specific example of tobacco industry greenwashing is Imperial Brands which funds education, sanitation and health through its leaf partnership with Alliance One in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, including including environmental education through a local NGO called PROTECT.

According to the report, on World Environment Day in 2018, ITC, India’s largest tobacco company, claimed to be “water positive”, “carbon positive” and “climate positive”. recycling solid waste” for “over 14 years”, implying that the company was having a net benefit to the environment.

Since 2011, British American Tobacco (BAT) has engaged with the Brazilian Association of Tobacco Growers, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and the Ministry of the Environment for the preservation of forests on the south coast of the country.

In addition, Altria, the American tobacco company, has funded so-called CSR projects in the United States, including the initiatives — Keep America Beautiful, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Center for Watershed Protection.

–IANS

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