The environmental externalities of tobacco manufacturing: A review of tobacco industry reporting

Ambio. 2020 Jan;49(1):17-34. doi: 10.1007/s13280-019-01148-3. Epub 2019 Mar 9.


Growing research and public awareness of the environmental impacts of tobacco present an opportunity for environmental science and public health to work together. Various United Nations agencies share interests in mitigating the environmental costs of tobacco. Since 2000, transnational tobacco industry consolidation has accelerated, spotlighting the specific companies responsible for the environmental and human harms along the tobacco production chain. Simultaneously, corporate social responsibility norms have led the industry to disclose statistics on the environmental harms their business causes. Yet, independent and consistent reporting remain hurdles to accurately assessing tobacco's environmental impact. This article is the first to analyze publicly available industry data on tobacco manufacturing pollution. Tobacco's significant environmental impact suggests this industry should be included in environmental analyses as a driver of environmental degradation influencing climate change. Countries aiming to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals must act to reduce environmental harms caused by the tobacco industry.

Keywords: Drivers of climate change; Industrial externalities; Product manufacturing; Sustainability; Tobacco industry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Commerce
  • Humans
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Industry*
  • Tobacco Products*
  • United Nations