Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Quit smoking for Earth, groups say

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Several civic groups yesterday urged smokers to try their utmost to quit smoking to help cut carbon emissions on Arbor Day.

“According to the WHO’s air pollution and cancer report, thick smog is responsible for causing lung cancer in about 60,000 people worldwide each year, accounting for between 3 and 5 percent of the total number of lung cancer cases around the world. Smoking is the main cause of between 70 and 80 percent of lung cancer cases,” Taiwan International Medical Alliance secretary-general Huang Sung-li (黃嵩立) said.

Huang said that while heavy smog and smoking are both detrimental to the environment and human health, the difference is that people decide whether to smoke.

Antismoking group John Tung Foundation chief executive officer Yao Shi-yuan (姚思遠) said the Environmental Protection Administration sets the daily average allowable standard for particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) at 35 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) in Taiwan.

“However, few people are aware that the PM2.5 level emitted by a cigarette is 918μg/m, about 26 times the standard level. It suggests that smoking is not only a threat to public health, but also to our air quality,” Yao said, adding that the best gift smokers can give to the planet is quitting smoking.

Consumers’ Foundation vice chairman You Kai-hsiung (游開雄) said Taiwanese smoke more than 44 billion cigarettes each year.

“Given that a cigarette butt takes at least 15 years to decompose, the toxic waste can pollute our environment and clog the nation’s sewage systems,” You said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said that according to the Forestry Bureau, a 20-year-old tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 18kg per year, but the manufacturing process of a single cigarette can emit as much as 900g of carbon dioxide.

“That means the production of the 44 billion cigarettes smoked by Taiwanese each year alone emits nearly 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. No amount of trees can tackle this level of pollutants,” Tien said.

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