Cigarette butts cause more damage than plastic straws

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 27 June 2019

While there is an increasing and necessary focus on the negative impact of single-use plastics, like shopping bags and plastic straws, on the environment, there is evidence that cigarette butts are also major pollutants.

These butts have been described as the ‘worst contaminant of our oceans’ in a study published by NBC News, which claims that they cause even more damage than plastic straws.

According to Thomas Novotny, professor of public health at San Diego State University, ‘It’s pretty clear there is no health benefit from filters. They are just a marketing tool. And they make it easier for people to smoke. It’s also a major contaminant, with all that plastic waste. It seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this.’

Although not the ultimate solution, San Francisco charges a fee of 60 cents per pack of cigarettes sold and uses the money raised to pay for cleaning up litter. Novotny has also founded a campaign known as The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project to try and address the problem of cigarette butt pollution.

In another awareness campaign, a big clean-up was organised across Belgium by citizens’ collective group ‘Leo Not Happy’ last year to coincide with the country’s 10th annual National Day of Cleanliness.

A group of 220 volunteers collected 270,000 cigarette butts in three hours in Brussels, while 60 volunteers collected 24,000 butts in Namur in the same period.

Along with images posted to Facebook, Leo Not Happy wrote, ‘A cigarette butt is a non-biodegradable trash, the sewers in our cities are no ashtrays. One cigarette butt pollutes 500 litres of water. Dear smokers, please adopt the habit to use pocket ashtrays or throw your extinguished cigarette in a litter bin.’


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270.000 cigarette butts collected by 240 volunteers in 3 hours in Brussels. Discarding your cigarette butts into the streets, around trees or in sewers, an act that seams harmless enough but wait… Every second 137.000 cigarette butts are discarded per second. A cigarette butt contains plastic, 4000 chemicals, is non biodegradable and pollutes all by itself 500 liters of water. It is the most common piece of trash you can find in our environment. We are sure that you would never just throw your plastic packaging or your empty drinking cans into the streets. Dear friends who smoke, you can make the difference by equipping yourself with a pocket ashtray or by throwing your extinguished cigarette butt in a bin. The world is no ash tray. Photo : ———————– 270.000 mégots ramassés par 240 volontaires en 3 heures à Bruxelles. Jeter son mégot par terre, au pied d’un arbre ou dans l’égout, un geste qui semble si anodin et pourtant … Chaque seconde, 137.000 mégots sont jetés par terre dans le monde. Le mégot contient du plastique, 4000 substances chimiques, n’est pas biodégradable et pollue à lui seul, 500 litres d’eau. Il est le premier déchet que l’on retrouve dans notre environnement. Il ne vous viendrait certainement pas à l’esprit de jeter votre emballage ou votre canette par terre. Ami(e)s fumeuses, fumeurs, vous pouvez changer la donne en vous munissant d’un cendrier de poche ou en jetant votre mégot éteint dans une poubelle. La terre n’est pas un cendrier. Photo de : #LeoNotHappy #bruxelles #brussels #belgique #belgium #bxl #trashtag #trashchallenge #pollution #environnement #ecology #eco #noplastic #nature #flowers #plasticpollutes #organic #plasticfree #plasticpollution #cleanup #zerodechet #zerowaste

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San Francisco also recently banned e-cigarettes because of potential health concerns and the town of Beverly Hills voted to ban the sale of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes earlier this month. The only legal sellers of cigarettes in the city are hotels.


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270.000 cig butts collected in 3 hours by 240 volunteers in Brussels. A cigarette butt is non biodegradable trash, the sewers in our cities are no ashtrays. One cigarette butt pollutes 500 liters of water. Dear smokers, please adopt the habit to use pocket ashtrays or throw your extinguished cigarette in a litter bin. 270.000 mégots collectés en 3 heures par 240 volontaires à Bruxelles. Le mégot n’est pas un déchet biodégradable, les égouts dans nos villes ne sont pas des cendriers. Un mégot pollue à lui seul 500 litres d’eau. Ami(e)s fumeuses, fumeurs, adoptez le bon geste, utilisez un cendrier de poche ou jetez votre mégot éteint dans une poubelle. Photo :

A post shared by I’m #LeoNotHappy from Brussels (@leonothappy) on


Featured image: Pixaby

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