To begin with, such an assumption is wrong. By damaging their health, the smokers seriously affect those that love, care and look up to them.
In the case of Africa where public smoking is still widely allowed, even some of us who do not smoke have had to unwillingly share in the experience through passive smoking.
But much more than that, smoking is a major environment killer!
It is apparent, especially in third world and developing countries, that the facts on the extent of damage that smoking has on the environment are little known, something that certainly hasn’t made the situation any better.
The truth is that there are just some things that every smoker that has any concern whatsoever for the environment should know and needs to take note of each time they light a cigarette.
Cigarettes are said to contain over 4 000 chemicals, all of which are exhaled and released into the atmosphere.
Considering the large number of smokers that we have in Zimbabwe, mostly owing to the widely-held belief that smoking has a soothing effect, we have a large amount of pollution being released into the air everyday.
Just like car exhaust fumes, smoking produces carbon monoxide into the air, a poisonous gas that adversely affects the environment.
And to add insult to injury, the problem doesn’t just stop at air pollution as smoking results in millions of cigarette butts being discarded everyday. These ruin the environment we live in and the water we drink as some of the stubs find their way into streams and lakes, clogging the water intakes and polluting it as they degrade.
Ammonia is one of the chemicals found in cigarettes and it has a highly negative effect on water-dwelling organisms like fish and other such aquatic organisms.
Besides poisoning our water sources, cigarette stubs have been known to start forest fires, a major environmental issue in Zimbabwe and the world over.
In fact, smoking has proved to be the major cause of forest and house fires.
The rest of the cigarette stubs are normally left on the ground to decompose, something that takes an average of 25 years as they are not biodegradable.
And while they lie around leaching toxins into the soil, animals and birds would sometimes eat the stubs, mistaking them for food and would, in most instances, die from it.
But maybe the thing that impacts on the environment the most is the making of cigarettes, a process that is demanding too much from our environment.
In Zimbabwe for instance, the bulk of the land is being used to grow tobacco at the expense of other crops like maize that could go a long way in feeding the thousands in dire need of food.
Furthermore, as the tobacco crop is highly fragile and prone to disease, its success requires a lot of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
All the major pesticides used on tobacco have been shown to have adverse effects on humans and animals, not to mention the degradation of soils.
It would be better if the tobacco producers were to at least take the tree-planting programmes a bit more seriously as well as look for more environment friendly methods that impact less on the environment.
When you look at smoking that way, it becomes very clear that the subject is one we cannot afford to ignore because it is everyone’s concern.
It is not so much about the smokers harming their own bodies as it is about the damage that it (smoking) causes to the environment and therefore to all of us.
So next time you feel like having a smoke, please do take time to consider the effects your actions would have on the environment and the trees it took for you to be holding the cigarette.
And if you decide to go ahead and smoke anyway, at least mind where you dispose of your cigarette stub and think of the effects throwing it around would have on the environment.