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February 2015

As we enter the second month of the year, the summer rains continue to be well below average and seemingly it is going to be one of the driest summers of the past few years. However, being the hardy plants they are, many of the invasive aliens are thriving and require control. Pompom is flowering strongly at this time of year, as is Lantana, Bugweed and the annuals. At the very least, attempts should be made to limit the development of seed.

For those of you who haven’t as yet decided on a new year’s resolution, the following extract from Prof Kobus vd Walt’s weekly “Omgewingspraaitjie” on RSG may give the smokers amongst you the motivation to “kick the habit”! Responding to listener’s questions, he listed statistics on the effects of tobacco smoking on the environment, as well as on smokers’ health.

Smoking does produce greenhouse gasses, but these are negligible compared to Co2 emissions by the 7 billion people on earth and industrial and automotive emissions of these gasses. However, the smoking statistics are alarming. Smokers light up 15 billion cigarettes daily or 10 million each minute of every 24 hour day. New young smokers starting the habit each day number 80-100,000 - despite warnings against doing so.

Cigarette butts discarded daily would, if placed end to end, encircle the world seven and a half times. Most of these butts are washed into our oceans, releasing their toxins. They take five years to decompose and are often found in the stomach contents of marine animals. A further (indirect) influence of smoking is that five million hectares of rainforest is cleared annually to plant tobacco. This is an area equal to seven million rugby fields!

Cigarettes contain more than 5,000 chemicals - 70 of which are carcinogenic and include such chemicals as chrome, arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide (used in the Nazi gas chambers), ammonia, butane gas (in lighters), etc. Solid particles constitute 10% of cigarette contents and consist of nicotine and tar.

The health hazards of smoking are well documented. Half of all smokers are killed by the habit (heart conditions and cancer). Each cigarette smoked shortens a smoker’s life by five minutes. On the positive side, recovery from the effects of smoking is rapid after cessation of the habit:

  • Within 20 minutes, blood pressure is reduced and the temperature of hands and feet return to normal
  • After 48 hours, nerve ends recover and sense of smell returns
  • After nine months, coughing is reduced, sinuses recover and shortness of breath is reduced
  • After one year, the risks of smoking are reduced by half
  • After two years, the chances of permanently “kicking the habit” are high
  • After 10 years, the risk of smoking-related cancer is reduced by half
  • After 15 years, the risk of heart attack is the same as that of non-smokers

If any of the smokers are still reading this article, I am hopeful that its contents will encourage you in becoming a non-smoker!

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