There wouldn’t be much originality in blogging about the health issues connected to cigarette and drug abuse: these are well known despite the idiocy of millions consumers and the repulsive petulance of the Big Tobacco corporations.

As is often the case, the environmental impact of these practices is often ignored; cigarettes and drugs are a million light years away from being sustainable.

As an environmental activist who has often participated in park and beach clean-ups in more than one country, I can attest that a vast majority of the trash collected in these natural settings corresponds to those hideous cigarettes butts, tossed to the ground with a careless gesture of disrespect for the planet.

According to the Toxic Butts campaign, 5.6 trillion (YES, that’s correct, 5.6 TRILLION) cigarette butts are dispersed in the environment every year, indefinitely releasing toxins, with the 4000 chemicals being released in the environment when exhaling the junk, which add to the endless stream of chemical and toxic waste we pollute with the natural world with.

Moreover, cigarette butts are often confused with tasty tidbits by unsuspecting animals, especially among marine birds, sea turtles and fish, where the cigarette butts ultimately end after a slow murderous pilgrimage in the seasonal rainwater streams. Some of these lead to suffocation and eating disorders, often ultimately leading to death.

Cigarettes that are still lit are among the most common causes of wildfire which ravage forests and human settlements, generating more CO2 to be released in an already contaminated atmosphere.

And at the very beginning of the lifecycle of cigarette, reckless deforestation is required to grow the tobacco plants and is believed to account for the disappearance of 200,000 ha of woodlands each year. Tobacco plants require a constant spraying of pesticides in order to endure and the individual packaging also takes a toll on the world’s forests.

If the Big Tobacco multinationals do not care about our health, selling us a product which alone is responsible for the staggering 167 billion dollars per year cost in health care in the US in the 1990s, do they care about the environment? Probably not!

Drugs, like cigarettes, are also responsible for extensive deforestation (and consequently soil nutrient depletion and erosion) and social injustice.

In Colombia, the notorious FARC (the revolutionary army), holding sway over large expanses of rainforest, control the illegal cocaine market and are believed to have destroyed more than two million hectares of pristine, primeval rainforest (and consequently, all of the biodiversity it protects) in order for stupid Westerners to party hard.

Heroin and cocaine also require an extensive use of chemicals in the production and refinement phases, exposing underpaid workers and the environment to pollution.

In Europe, the illegal production of ecstasy is performed often in hazardous conditions, with one kilo of the drug resulting in 13 litres of toxic waste being released in sewers or rivers.

Marijuana cultivation in the US National Forests is also responsible for deforestation, soil and watershed pollution, through the illegal dumping of toxic materials used in the production of the drug.

There are just some examples of the ultimate environmental cost of addiction. Smoking up and showing off your cigarette: NOT COOL. Not only for your own health, the health of non-smokers like myself and your contribution to a global criminal network owned by mafias in countless countries: NOT COOL for the planet either.