Those that love the great outdoors are asked to come together to support one another, and to help protect the untamed beauty of nature that they have come to respect.
There is nothing quite like the great outdoors. The beauty of Mother Nature is heralded by some to be absolutely unmatched. Those who have found that their heart belongs to the forests, waters, mountains, and plains of this vast world are more than enthusiasts – they are devoted to the love of something more. These individuals have found something pure and unburdened in the face of society and civilization. Where the highways end and the unbridled landscapes of our world begins, it is there that you will find them truly at peace.
It is, however, becoming more and more difficult to share this love because of the effects of smoking. It is estimated that about 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown out each year, according to a cooperative study published on Tobacco Control. A large number of these cigarette butts end up in places of nature and wildlife. This is a source of contamination in areas of refuge for wild animals and birds. The byproduct of smoking addiction directly strains and may even destroy the natural order of the wild. And this is only the beginning.
Smoking’s Effect on the Outdoors
Forests: Cigarette butts, for example, are comprised of cellulose acetate. This is a plastic that will never biodegrade. This material further meets the definition of what is considered toxic waste. These butts may be consumed by small animals, birds, or insects, and can make them very sick or even kill them.
Waterways: In 2009, roughly 1,360,000 cigarettes and butts were removed from the United States coastal waterways. According to Stockton.edu, due to the chemical composition of cigarette filters, arsenic, acetone, ammonia, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, and toluene begin to leak once they are introduced to water. These are poisons which are able to end the lives of fish and other marine creatures they come into contact with.
Plains or Plateaus: When cigarette butts are discarded onto the ground, the chemicals can negatively affect the soil. This can affect vegetation and plant life, which then may affect all manner of grazing animals. This can lead to the disruption of an ecosystem’s natural balance. The introduction of toxic chemicals to a plain or plateau’s sustained ecosystem means to disrupt the natural progression of the life they support. Contaminating grass and vegetation especially, can make grazing animals sick.
Smoking’s Effect on Outdoorsmen and Women
Most people understand the impact of smoking on the body. It destroys our internal organs, causes numerous diseases and cancers, and kills nearly 450,000 people each year. It is further estimated that around 8.6 million people currently live with diseases or illnesses caused by smoking. For outdoorsmen and women, it also means an increased risk of asthma and chronic respiratory disease. Hiking needs lung power. This means stamina is decreased, endurance is decreased, and hiking distances are decreased for those that smoke.
Smoking results in less oxygen absorbed from the lungs. This means that organs, muscles, and the brain receives less oxygen. With poor circulation also comes less nutrients getting to vital areas of the body. This all results in even less energy.
We are asking that all outdoors enthusiasts come together to help eradicate smoking. The number of smokers are decreasing, but more needs to be done. Through education and support, those who adore the great outdoors can continue with energy and stamina, going further and further without limitations. The beauty of nature must also be protected for the future generations of nature lovers. Between forest fires, litter, and pollution, the outdoors needs you more than ever. With enthusiasts who continue to smoke despite knowing the outcomes, support and education is needed through unity and camaraderie to promote smoking cessation. Together, outdoors lovers everywhere can truly make a difference.