Monday, October 7, 2013

Unwanted Effects Of Tobacco Smoke With Plants

Smoke affects everyone -- if not through second-hand smoke, then through plants.

Cigarette smoking, according to Learning Info, causes many problems for humans. Smoking-related fatalities, lung cancer, insurance costs and quality of life issues all concern various organizations focused on combating smoking. However, many people do not know about the multitude of environmental problems that smoking causes, including negative effects on plant life. Although plants do not directly absorb carbon monoxide from smoking, according to the University of Michigan, cigarette smoke and cigarette production threaten many plants that are necessary for human life.


According to the International Journal of Forestry Research (IJFR), carbon monoxide can negatively impact plant life. In a study performed by a group of scientists, exposure to carbon monoxide for 20 minutes cut the ability for photosynthesis in conifer trees in half. Although the study focuses specifically on the environmental impact of forest fires, the IJFR study also applies to second-hand smoke, especially in greenhouses or indoor spaces.

Although second-hand smoke does not fill an environment with smoke the way that forest fires do, over time, the effects of second-hand smoke can be similar. And if photosynthesis is stalled in plants, necessary conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen slows, creating a more damaging breathing environment for humans.

Ground Chemicals

In addition to second-hand smoke, the litter from cigarette waste can cause significant damage to plants, according to About My Planet. Those who do not think that cigarette butts, mainly because of their size, could not cause significant damage should reconsider --- approximately half of California's roadside waste cleanup consists of cigarette waste. The disposed cigarette butts take 25 years to decompose, with chemicals entering the soil, groundwater and streams during that time. Additionally, improper disposal of cigarette butts can cause fires, which in turn can affect plants by destroying them or reducing the rate of photosynthesis.

Farming Tobacco

At the source of the creation of cigarettes, tobacco farming may have the largest and most disastrous effect on plant life. Tobacco farms, especially in third-world countries, require the destruction of many plants, according to the website Who's Choosing? Tobacco, with its specific climate needs, can only grow in certain areas. Many of these areas are home to forests. Farmers enter the area and deforest the environment, planting the tobacco plant, which leaches many essential nutrients from the soil.

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