Cigarette butts are known to make up around 20% per cent of the debris gathered during ocean clean-ups.
The world’s 1.3 billion smokers “improperly dispose of” an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarettes each year. Disposed cigarette butts tend to pile up in parks, beaches, streets and bus stops, as they are small enough to appear more harmless than the more visible type of rubbish. Because of their size they are more likely to be disposed of inappropriately and are even known to make up around 20% per cent of the debris gathered during ocean clean-ups.

The chemicals that leak from a cigarette butt could be toxic enough to kill 50% of the saltwater and freshwater fish exposed for 96 hours. This percentage was calculated by experiments in which butts were submerged in a litre of water for 24hours.

But even these are “only a portion of the environmental harm caused by the tobacco industry,” explained Stop, as tobacco is not only “grown on deforested lands” but its production “degrades soil and pollutes air, land and water.” The organization explained that sadly, billions of trees are chopped down yearly to produce cigarettes, accounting for 5% of global deforestation.

UK tobacco companies urged to take action

Meanwhile, UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has warned local tobacco companies to do something about the millions of cigarette butts littering the local streets, or else face tougher laws.

Minister Pow has summoned the major players in the industry focusing her fire on the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association and cigarette giants Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International, which owns the Silk Cut, Camel and Benson & Hedges brands. “If we cannot progress this discussion… we will have to reflect on what steps the Government can take to ensure the tobacco industry takes increasing responsibility for the litter its products create,” she said in a letter addressed to the tobacco firms.

Read Further: The West Australian

How Cigarette Butts Pollute the Earth

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