GreenTracker| Each year more than 360 billion cigarettes are smoked in America. A new report released by the journal Tobacco Control — funded by the national public health foundation Legacy® — updates last year’s Earth Day post Please Stop Smoking and Carry a Ciggy Butt Bag Until You Do.
According to the new research, cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems. For example, in one laboratory test result, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed. Some other new research findings include:
Poison centers report hundreds of cases of cigarette butt consumption among children under 6 years old, with some cases of moderate toxicity due to nicotine poisoning.
Tobacco products are the single largest type of litter collected along US roadways and on beaches.
Tobacco industry research reveals that there might be misconceptions that cigarette filters are readily biodegradable or inconsequential as litter. However, in reality, even under ideal conditions, cigarette butts can take years to degrade, merely breaking up into small particles of plastic, toxic waste.
Cigarette litter clean-up costs can be substantial to local authorities.
“This special supplement brings together the currently known science about cigarette butt waste and sets the stage for a new research agenda – one focused both on preserving our environment and protecting our public health,” said Cheryl G. Healton, President and CEO of Legacy. “Cigarette butts comprise approximately 38 percent of all collected litter items from roads and streets—the carcinogenic chemicals that they contain make their use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously, and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 and counting) into the global environment each year.”