Tobacco Harms Health and the Environment: Urgent Action Needed at the UN


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Tobacco Harms Health and the Environment: Urgent Action Needed at the UN
World No Tobacco Day is May 31, falling during the second round of negotiations for the UN Plastic Pollution Treaty in Paris, France from May 29 – June 2, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 24, 2023 – Today, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is calling on the global community to unite in support of a strong United Nations treaty on eliminating plastic pollution, and banning cigarette filters is a crucial part of reducing plastic pollution and protecting the planet.

ASH and partner organizations from the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance will attend the next round of negotiations (the International Negotiation Committee, INC-2) in Paris, France from May 29 – June 2, 2023. World No Tobacco Day (May 31st) falls within the INC-2 session.

“Tobacco use is most commonly thought of as a health issue, but the growing, production, distribution, sale, and disposal of tobacco is an environmental disaster as well,” said Dr. Thomas Novotny, a public health physician, Professor Emeritus and co-director of the Center for Tobacco and the Environment at San Diego State University, who has researched tobacco and its health and economic consequences for more than 30 years.

“Tobacco is an environmental hazard, and the cellulose acetate filter in cigarettes is a fraudulent marketing tool that is harmful, not helpful, to health.”

Click here or select a post below to share on social media about the need to ban cigarette filters and eliminate their toll on our planet and our health.

Cigarette filters are single-use plastics, are not biodegradable, and contain toxic chemicals that leach into the ground and water.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, making cigarette filters the number one most-littered plastic in the world.

Countries have a legal obligation to protect their citizens’ right to health, right to life, and right to a healthy environment. Tobacco infringes on each of those rights.

“ASH is committed to holding governments accountable to their legal obligations to provide the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes protecting citizens from the harms of tobacco and providing a healthy environment,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at Action on Smoking and Health.

This year, the World Health Organization’s theme for World No Tobacco Day (May 31st) is “We need food, not tobacco” and serves as a call to action to eliminate the environmental and health impacts of tobacco production, consumption, and waste.

ASH is hosting a webinar tomorrow, Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 12:00 pm Eastern to hear from academics and experts in the field on how tobacco impacts food security and what we can do at the local level. Register here to attend.


Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem.