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SMOKING: MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL AND health impact of tobacco farming Wake up people, lets stop poisoning society for the sake of wealth.
2019 is a new year and the world is moving towards improved health for all and sustainable practices. Zimbabwe has a major role to play, in encouraging people to stop smoking.Zimbabweans and the world at large, fail to take stock of the environmental and health problems of tobacco farming to the farming communities ,tobacco farming workers and the public. This article by www.newzimbabwevision.com is designed to awaken the public to the serious risks associated with Tobacco farming. Zimbabwe, by virtue of its warm climate and focus on tobacco farming, must take the lead in restoring global health by shifting from tobacco farming, cleaning up the air we breathe by encouraging people to stop smoking.
Yes there are millions to be made from tobacco farming and smoking, but at what costs to the environment, farm workers, the farming communities, the public and by default, the medical fraternity and government which then has to deal with the subsequent health crisis. We , as a people must appreciate that, we are partisan to the negative impact to the environment and health of the society, and therefore we must look at ourselves and take steps to confronting the issues before us and dealing with them without fear or favour.
First and foremost, it is important to realise that, tobacco farming is a major cause of deforestation as land is cleared for farming and firewood is cut for tobacco to increase farmland for tobacco growth and cure tobacco plants. We all know that deforestation is a major challenge to environmental sustainability and climate change worldwide. Chemical waste from tobacco products such as the non bio degradable cigarette butts, public litter , waterway pollution, plastic wrapping pollution from cigarette packs and resultant neurological conditions along with countless other health matters, must be acknowledged and dealt with. We must stop poisoning society for the sake of wealth, what good is it to become rich from killing people?
The pollution of clean water resources, is also a threat to food security as it destroys aquatic environments or fish habitats and depletes or destroys fish stocks and soil organisms that maintain the soil. Tobacco farm workers and their families worldwide, generally suffer skin, respiratory and neurological problems , conditions clearly seen amongst children and pregnant women and the elderly who are involved in tobacco farming activity or reside in such environments.
The same challenges are faced in mining, particularly in Zimbabwe, with wide spread use of poisonous chemicals such in mining and processing minerals which in turn, contaminate the environment including land, water, and air we breathe. Im sure its not rocket science as to what the impact is, upon the health and welfare of people living near mines, and wildlife and domestic animals,..wake up people!.
At least 200,000 hectares of forests and woodlands are cleared per year for tobacco farming activity in Southern Africa alone as wood from deforestation is sourced primarily for curing tobacco leaves and to build tobacco curing barns.
Environmental degradation also results from the tobacco crop leaching nutrients from the farm land soil and polluting the environment through the massive pesticides application for insect and disease control and fertilisers use. Suffice it is to say that , this creates a severe health problem to the tobacco farm workers who are not allocated with the necessary training in chemical use, while at the same time underground water is polluted by this farming activity, which has a direct impact on the health of water users downstream, clearly , a global health challenge, that calls for everyone’s attention to it. Tobacco farm workers are victims of this agricultural activity such as nicotine absorption through skin exposure to tobacco leaves, because they have limited training or no protective clothing.
SMOKING AND HEALTH: Now that we have tackled a broad but non exhaustive list of issues relating to the impact of tobacco farming on the environment , farm workers and the farming community, we must look at the next issue, which is the mainly the health impact on tobacco product consumers, mainly smokers, but not limited to smokers.
In the USA, its reported that at least half of Americans who smoke, will die because of their smoking habit, with close to 500,000 people dying in the United States die from the use of tobacco or related illnesses, a staggering statistic which breaks down to 1 out of 5 deaths in the US are caused by smoking. This is shocking but to awaken smokers about the dangers relating to cigarette smoking, it should be a serious worry to all smokers, that smoking kills more Americans than HIV, guns, car accidents, alcohol, and illegal drugs together.
Smoking is known to cause cancer, harm one’s health by damaging most body organs, including the eyes, mouth, skin, bones, heart, lungs, blood vessels and reproductive organs, with an average of 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States, and approximately 80% of all lung cancer deaths arising from smoking.
Smoking causes damage to women’s reproductive health while in other smokers it causes poor blood flow, high blood pressure, lung cancer and other diseases. Furthermore, secondhand smoke affects non smokers, while diseases from smoking such as pneumonia and asthma , chronic bronchitis and emphysema , COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worsen including incurable smoking diseases. Sibusiso Ngwenya
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