Cigarette butts are one of the most common litter items found on roadsides, beaches and waterways around the world. They aren’t just unsightly – cigarette butts are also toxic.
A survey conducted by US anti-smoking group Legacy shows more than 44 percent of smokers polled admit to having dropped a cigarette on the ground and nearly 32 percent have dropped a cigarette out of a car window.
Guilty as charged on the former. During most of my years as a smoker*, I believed filters were quite biodegradable and I didn’t take into consideration the high concentration of toxins in the butt.
Simply put – cigarette butts are toxic waste and need to be disposed of as such.
For example, a 2008 study found similar patterns of poly-aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) – some of which are carcinogenic – levels in roadside soil as in cigarette butts found in the immediate vicinity, indicating that the chemicals had leached from the butts into the soil.
Legacy has teamed up with Leave No Trace for the Rethink Butts campaign to try and help reduce the littering cigarette butts and to highlight the very important point that the billions of cigarettes butts littered around the world annually represent a huge environmental and public health threat.
As part of the RethinkButts campaign; a thought-provoking TV ad has been produced:
Legacy was established in 1999 as part of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major tobacco companies and various US governments to redistribute a portion of the money received from the tobacco industry to undertake research and provide education on the impact of tobacco.
*After nearly 3 decades of heavy smoking, I entirely quit my tobacco cigarette habit on July 24, 2012 using ecigarettes. If you are a heavy smoker who has tried everything else to quit smoking and failed; ecigs are well worth looking into.