The first thing that probably comes to mind after reading the title is, sure, all of those cigarette butts collecting in drains and sewers. That’s well and good, but there is more to sustainability than pollution. Another rather obvious connection is the impact on health and society. This gets to the social component of sustainability, as well as the economic. Healthcare resources diverted to smoking contribute to the unsustainable situation faced by the ballooning cost of care. One could argue that the costs of smoking do not outweigh the benefit, but this becomes more of a judgment call.
I don’t smoke. Never have, never will. I’m not a goody two shoes. Rather I find it repulsive and can’t stand the smell. I don’t care for walking by people who smoke in front of public places, but I understand that society has “turned” on many of these people and forced them into public spaces, as opposed to offices, restaurants, and other indoor places. This brings me to my revelation about smoking being bad for sustainability. Really it is related to environmental sustainability, but here is the connection: I keep the windows open in my apartment instead of using the air-conditioning whenever possible. New neighbors who can’t smoke inside (for reasons I will leave unsaid) stand on their porch/balcony apparatus and prevailing winds that I rely on to keep my apartment cooler become infested with smoke. This isn’t exclusively an issue in apartment buildings. Single family homes with neighbors close by (think urban areas) can suffer from secondhand smoke too.
If we’re to survive on this planet together, there need to be some ground rules. Is it fair to tell someone they can’t smoke? I’m sure I have unflattering habits. However, I don’t think any of them are going to kill you or adversely impact sustainability.