Tue, Mar 12, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Quit smoking to cut carbon emissions: group

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin, center, and members of the Homemakers United Foundation, the Consumers’ Foundation and the John Tung Foundation hold bonsai trees at an anti-smoking event in Taipei yesterday on the eve of Arbor Day.

Photo: Chiu I-chun, Taipei Times

Several civic organizations and a legislator yesterday said that quitting smoking was not only about improving one’s health, but could also help address the issue of carbon emissions.

At a press conference, the Homemakers United Foundation, the Consumers’ Foundation, the John Tung Foundation and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said that while the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan two years ago had sparked fierce debate over nuclear energy, which the government claimed to be environmentally friendly, an easier way to reduce carbon emissions and save energy is simply to quit smoking — an alternative that they claimed has been largely overlooked.

People are now much aware of the physical damages that smoking might cause, but tobacco use may also be linked to environmental hazards such as tobacco farm-driven-deforestation, excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, pollution related to tobacco processing, cigarette packages and butts ending up as garbage, energy-consuming transportation and so on, the group said.

Tien said that the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the fabrication process alone of the cigarettes consumed by Taiwanese smokers is 36 million tonnes per year, which far exceeds the absorbable amount of the trees we have. They can in a year only consume between 11kg and 18kg of carbon dioxide each, provided that they are above the age of 20.

“[The government] should not justify the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant by saying it contributes to carbon reduction,” since carbon emissions can be reduced in many other ways that do not subject us to the risk of total destruction, and quitting smoking is one of the easiest, Tien said.

Homemakers United Foundation chairperson Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said it takes 15 years for a cigarette butt to decompose and that Taiwanese smokers produce more than 40 billion cigarette butts a year.

“Not only are they the main cause of sewer blockages, but littered cigarettes might also cause fatal forest fires,” Chen said.

“Forty billion is actually the official number,” Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jason Lee (李鳳翱) said.

“If we include cigarettes that were smuggled into the country, the number is about 46 billion and we know that cigarettes are not a necessity of life. Consumers have a passive obligation to not to cause damages to others with their consumption,” he added.

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