Air Pollution: Cigarette Smoke vs. Diesel Truck Smog

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Research shows that the amount of pollution produced by the typical cigarette is approximately 10 times more than the exhaust that typically comes from a diesel truck. The tobacco smoke particles produced by a cigarette can really add up. The tobacco contents features some of the highest levels of air pollution where air pollution is concerned.

Cigarette vs. Diesel Fuel

As a part of an experiment, a turbo diesel engine was turned on and kept idling for 30 minutes in a garage for four hours. The cigarette produced 830ug/m3 while the engine registered 88 ug/m3 after the first hour. The high levels of pollution produced by the small cigarette underscores the importance of increasing awareness about the dangers of cigarette smoke as a public health matter.

How does pollution occur with cigarettes?

Cigarettes produce pollution as a result of the combustion from the combination of tobacco and paper. During this process, thousands of known pollutants are introduced into the air. The pollutants produces are called particulate matter, which consists of benzene and carbon monoxide.

The full impact of cigarette smoke

although a single cigarette weighs less than a gram, it is capable of producing 14 mg of pollution, a considerable amount for something so small. One cigarette smoked in a single room can produce pollutants in a higher amount than what is recommended by the federal air quality standards. Tobacco smoke is released by the smoker and the cigarette itself, which amplifies the impact of one single cigarette. According to the EPA, secondhand cigarette smoke is responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths each year.

What’s in a cigarette?

One single cigarette consists of 4,000 chemicals. Of those 4,000 chemicals, 200 of them are considered poisonous. Another 69 of them are known carcinogens. Cigarette smoke poses an even greater risk to infants and toddlers. It is estimated that anywhere between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations involving children can be attributed to cigarette smoke.

Do electronic cigarettes pose any air pollution problems?

Electronic cigarettes have not been proven to pose the same level of health risks to non-smokers and infants. They can also reduce the amount of pollution released into the air in reducing the impact of second-hand smoke on others. This means that people who have been using traditional tobacco for some time may actually benefit from transitioning to the safe alternative.

Cigarette habits are difficult to break. Choosing to gradually eliminate the smoking habit by using electronic cigarettes and smoking cessation programs can really make it much easier for those who are ready to stop. In understanding the impact of the smoking habit on the lives of others and putting into context the level of pollution produced by just one cigarette, people are able to fully appreciate the risks that come with such a habit.

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  • Ali Esmaili
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