Positive Changes: How Smoking Affects Livestock and What can be Done
Because of the dangers smoking presents to our farms, it is important that farmers join together in order to spread awareness. Education is the bedrock to ensuring animals remain healthy, and the farm remains thriving.
Smoking adversely affects us in many ways. It affects virtually every system in the human body. It is the cause of numerous illnesses and diseases, and plays host for many forms of cancer. However, cigarettes do not only affect the individual smoking, it negatively affects everyone – man, woman, child, and animal. This means the impact is also felt by livestock. Farm animals, however, are susceptible to the dangers of smoking in more ways than one.
Waste and Litter
One of the primary concerns when it comes to the safety of farm animals, is cigarette litter. This is comprised of plastic wrappers, crumpled packages that contain tobacco remnants, and used cigarette butts. Plastic wrappers and packages are most readily eaten by goats and pigs, however they can be ingested by most any animal. This can present a choking hazard, as well as making the animal severely sick when tobacco remnants are present.
Cigarette butts are another issue. Cigarette butts are comprised of cellulose acetate. This is a type of plastic that can breakdown into smaller pieces, but it will never biodegrade. Cigarette butts actually meet every city and state department’s guidelines for what is considered to be toxic waste. Animals such as goats, pigs, cows, horses, fowl, and more, can easily consume these butts. This happens out of curiosity, or by mistake. Either way, once these butts are consumed, the toxins from the material itself and the tobacco remnants can make the animal very sick and can even kill them.
Disrupting the Natural Balance
As any farmer knows, a successful farm is a natural habitat that embodies a balanced ecosystem unto its own. When cigarette butts are thrown onto the ground, the chemical ingredients can affect the soil. This can affect vegetation, which can in turn, affect the animals. This can lead to a total disruption of a farm’s natural balance. To introduce foreign, toxic chemicals to a farm’s ecosystem also means to disrupt its natural sustainability and progression. It hinders the farm’s natural order, and begins to break it down piece by piece. This can lead to a domino effect.
Contaminating the grass and vegetation can make grazing animals very sick. This also accounts for accidental ingestion of butts by these grazing animals. There is also the issue of water contamination. If a cigarette butt makes it into the animal’s water supply, the results could be deadly. According to Stockton.edu, due to the chemical composition of used cigarette filters, they almost immediately begin to leak arsenic, acetone, ammonia, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, and toluene when introduced to water. This is a biohazard, and can lead to a farm full of very sick animals.
In light of the dangers which are ever present on our farms, we are asking for support to help end these potentially deadly encounters with tobacco products. We are asking that farmers everywhere come together to begin an initiative that will bring awareness, and will further agricultural and livestock education. This will not only help maximize the potential of farms around the country today, it will also enlighten and educate those who will be agricultural and livestock farmers tomorrow.