The environmental impact of snus vs. cigarettes

There's a simple fact of life that all people of the world have to deal with, and that's the fact that there's someone in a position of power who thinks they best know how you should live your life. Sometimes the regulations they put forth are beneficial to you and to others. For instance, the illegality of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a just, necessary law which protects the driver and potential innocent victims of said driver's recklessness and impaired function. Other laws, however, like the EU's continued attempts to ban snus, come across as overreaching and ridiculous to snus users.

To look at it from the angle of an observer, it appears as if snus is just the next logical stop by the tobacco police after cigarettes were cracked down on, but it goes deeper than that. The EU's infatuation with regulating snus is nothing new. For decades now snus has been the target of politicians, following the money trail may cause one to infer that it's all about the money.

But some opponents of tobacco in general cite an environmental impact. They claim these products are causing far more harm than good, often directly comparing snus with cigarettes. So, let's have a look at the environmental impact of snus vs. cigarettes.

The Impact of Cigarettes

Although there is no credible, peer-reviewed scientific research which states secondhand smoke contributes to cancer any more so than other environmental pollutants, the populous truth is that smoke is bad news. And, of course, you're getting into an area of people's rights to smoke vs. people's right not to breathe smoke if they do not choose to.

However, that's not actually the big environmental impact cigarettes have. No, it's not that cigarette smoke is somehow contributing to global warming either. It's actually those chemical-filled, pesky little cig butts you find everywhere that are damaging the environment so badly.

Believe it or not, around 4.3 trillion (4,300,000,000,000!) cigarette butts litter the globe on average per year. From getting into lakes and water supplies to gardens and playgrounds, these butts eventually leech out some pretty nasty stuff and can have a terrible effect on the environment.

The Impact of Snus

If one wanted to compare the environmental impact between the two in terms of production, then a valid argument could be made for similarities. Tobacco for snus needs to be ground, sieved, blended, batched, portioned, shipped, and all those other production factors which may contribute to C02 levels.

However, that's where the comparisons stop. Snus is bereft of the harsh chemicals that plague cigarettes, so even if there's a loose pouch on the ground, it's not going to leech chemicals. Plus the amount of discarded snus in the environment makes up only a fraction of a percentage point of cigarettes. Most people don't even spit snus, which renders null the argument that disease may be more easily spread, ala the old American West and disease-riddled spittoons in public areas.

If speaking only of the environmental impact of the two, snus tips the scale of 10 at about a solid 0.5, whereas cigarettes are pushing a healthy 8.