Cigarette butts are the single largest source of ocean trash
Thanks to numerous campaigns and several intense documentaries, people are more aware of environmental issues than they have ever been before.
There is a large push, especially among younger people, to combat the planet’s waste and pollution problems, as well as climate change.
When most of us think of cleaning up the oceans and reducing the use of materials that cannot be recycled, we think of items like plastic cups, cotton buds, shopping bags, and water bottles.
However, it was recently revealed that the biggest source of garbage in the world is cigarette butts.
Cigarette filters can cause irreversible damage to ocean life and its waters. The colossal number of them and their tiny size means they can be found anywhere and are easily ingested by animals by mistake.
As world leaders and big corporations work towards reducing their plastic use, the cigarette industry does not seem to be doing its part.
But a number of activists are keen on changing this and have joined forces to push towards a ban on cigarette filters. The initiative is being backed not just by environmentalists but by those focused on human health too.
This includes a leading tobacco industry expert, a California lawmaker, and a large surfing organization, NBC News reported.
Cigarette butts are the most collected trash item on earth’s beaches during cleaning operations, with over 60 million of them collected in 32 years.
Thomas Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University, stated:
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.
In California, an assemblyman made a proposal for banning the use of cigarettes with filters entirely but was not able to get approval for it.
A New York senator has crafted legislation to provide a rebate for cigarette butts returned to ‘redemption centers’ but his idea is also being delayed.
So far, the most successful scheme has come out of San Francisco, in which an extra 60-cent fee per cigarette pack is being charged. In this way, around $3 million a year are being raised for helping with the costs of cleaning up discarded cigarette butts.
One of the largest anti-tobacco organizations – the Truth initiative – are also fighting to remove filter use, and have now launched their latest campaign to convince people to cut down. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project is aiming to achieve the same thing.
5.6 trillion cigarettes are being made each year worldwide.
Most of them have filters made of cellulose acetate – a type of plastic that takes more than ten years to decompose.
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