While it is a well-known fact that secondhand cigarette smoke has a detrimental effect on human health, there has been less information regarding what kind of effect cigarette smoke has on plant life. There are a few effects that cigarette smoke has shown to have on plants though, some that are beneficial, both others that are as harmful to plants at it is to humans.
Leaf Loss and Epinasty
When cigarette smoke comes into contact with plants, it can cause the plants' leaves to either fall off or suffer a condition called epinasty, which result in the leaves turning downward. This is caused by the ethylene content in cigarette smoke, which produces swelling and inhibits the ability of the leaves to grow upward.
Inability to Thrive
Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as the numerous particulates that are in cigarette smoke, can cause plants harm and effect their growth patterns. Particulates stick to the stems and leaves of plants, making it more difficult for them to absorb light. This hampers photosynthesis, the process in which plants use the energy that comes from sunlight in order to produce sugar that provides them with fuel for growth, making it more difficult for the plant to thrive. Particulates also cause stomatal pores, which results in a reduction in gas exchange in the leaf, another issue that can prevent the plant from thriving.
Plants require carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Since cigarette smoke contains carbon dioxide, it can actually benefit the photosynthesis process if the plant is receiving enough light.
Since plants do absorb the carbon dioxide in the air and replace it with oxygen, they are also generally beneficial to have inside the house. They can help remove some of the pollution from the air we breathe, including some of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. If you want to use a plant to help clean the air in your home, choose one with fuzzy leaves, which are most effective in removing pollutants.