World No Tobacco Day: Cigarettes and the environment, what do French-speakers think?


world no tobacco dayCigarettes and the environment: what do francophones think?

On the occasion of the WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2022, whose theme is “Tobacco: a threat to our environment”, Unisanté analyzed the opinions of 830 people living in French-speaking Switzerland.

Dried tobacco leaves.

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The theme of WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2022 is “Tobacco: a threat to our environment”. On that occasion, Unisanté commissioned the LINK institute to collect the opinion of 830 Romands during a representative survey in March-April 2022. If they are aware of the pollution linked to cigarette butts, respondents underestimate the ecological footprint and climate of growing tobacco. Furthermore, the results show that the French-speaking population is open to strengthening prevention measures.

85% of the participants consider that tobacco has a very negative, even very negative, impact on the environment: all stages of production and consumption are estimated by the vast majority of respondents as having a negative impact; being the strongest perceived in terms of consumption of products and elimination of waste. However, these two steps represent only one-hundredth of the total carbon impact of the tobacco cycle. “In our view, this perception gap is explained by the fact that cigarette butts and other tobacco-related residues are present in public spaces, while tobacco cultivation and leaf drying – much more harmful to the environment – ​​are less visible in public spaces. Switzerland”, he explains. the University Center for General Medicine and Public Health in Lausanne in its press release.

At the same time, 46% of respondents believe manufacturers are responsible for the impact on the environment, while 31% blame consumers and 16% say so. It should be noted that some States, including France, have adopted the polluter pays rule with a law requiring the tobacco industry to pay for the management of related waste.

E-cigarettes too

Although the ecological impact of e-cigarettes is less well known, this problem is current with the arrival of disposable (“puff”) models.

Two-thirds of respondents rate the environmental impact of e-cigarettes as negative or very negative. It is the production and disposal steps that are evaluated most negatively.

Health more motivating than ecology

Unisanté was also interested in arguments that could motivate a smoker to stop using. The environment seems to be one of the motivations for quitting smoking, but the three main reasons chosen, in order of importance, are health, the daily economic cost and the lack of physical fitness linked to the consumption of the product.

Most francophones are in favor or even very much in favor of implementing additional measures to prevent smoking, such as a ban on smoking in schoolyards (77%) and playgrounds (74%), a total ban on publicity (72%), the increase in tobacco taxes (70%) and the improvement in reimbursement of prescription drugs (67%). Finally, one in two Romands also supports the adoption of plain packaging and larger packaging warnings.

The Swiss Lung League on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day

Tobacco is harmful. However, more than a quarter of the Swiss population smokes. If half of smokers want to quit, only a minority can. On World No Tobacco Day, the Lung League innovates to draw attention to your smoking cessation offer.

So, some customers will be surprised to go to the bakery. Exceptionally, the bags of bread they will receive will be green. “It’s our color,” says Claudia Künzli, head of health promotion and prevention at the Swiss Lung League. With this “Bread Bags” action, the health organization intends to remind smokers that following up on the smoking cessation process significantly increases the chances of success.

some numbers

According to the WHO, 8 million people die each year as a result of tobacco consumption, including 9,500 in Switzerland. Smokers, as well as non-smokers regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, often develop cardiovascular disease, cancer, or incurable lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In Switzerland, approximately 400,000 people suffer from COPD. In about 90% of cases, COPD is caused by smoking. One in four or five smokers develops COPD.


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