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Surprising Science

Report: Cigarette Butts Are Really, Really Bad For Us

Approximately three-quarters of cigarettes end up as butts on the ground, where they can eventually leach dangerous chemicals into soil and water. That’s just one of the problems caused by tobacco waste litter.

What’s the Latest Development?

An article recently published in Current Environmental Health Reports reveals that, aside from being unsightly, cigarette butts and other types of litter associated with tobacco products — matches, packaging, and the like — can cause serious harm to the environment. Of the six trillion cigarettes smoked every year, approximately three-quarters of them “are simply flicked away along a roadside or pavement.” Both the tobacco chemicals and the plastic non-biodegradable filters within the butts can contaminate soil and water sources.

What’s the Big Idea?

To call attention to the potentially serious danger of tobacco waste litter, researchers and co-authors Thomas Novotny and Elli Slaughter make several recommendations in their article. These include a ban on filtered cigarettes — which are no safer than non-filtered varieties, according to a recent National Cancer Institute review — as well as “a deposit-return scheme similar to that used for glass and metal beverage containers.” They also believe the tobacco industry should be held responsible for costs relating to litter clean-up.

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Read it at ScienceDaily


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