Cigarette Butts as Litter-Toxic as Well as Ugly

Cigarette butt litterAs if second hand smoke isn’t bad enough, we gotta put up with smoker’s throwaway butts, made of a NON-biodegradable material; cellulose plastic.

I found this article “Cigarette Butts as Litter – Toxic as Well as Ugly” and quote below from the longer article:

The 470 billion cigarettes smoked in the United States in 1998 translates to a total of 176,250,000 pounds of discarded butts in one year in the United States alone. The filters from 5.608 trillion cigarettes (approximate world production) would weigh more than 2.1 billion pounds. This figure does not include the weight of the tobacco still attached to the filter, or the packaging, matches, disposable lighters, and other “collateral” waste that is generated by smoking”.

“The filters on one pack of 20 cigarettes weigh 0.12 ounces (with no tobacco attached) and displaces a volume of 10 ml. With annual world-wide production of cigarettes at 5.608 trillion, the potential weight and volume of cigarette butts becomes enormous.

Similarly, cigarette butts take up a large volume of space. If one person smokes a pack and a half a day, he will consume more than 10,000 cigarettes in a year. This number of cigarette butts (filters only –not including remnant tobacco) will fill a volume of five liters. Worldwide annual consumption of cigarettes creates enough cigarette butt waste to fill more than 2,800,000,000 liters (2,800,000 cubic metres).

95% of cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic slow to degrade.

Cigarette butts accumulate in the environment due to the popularity of plastic cigarette filters and the habit some smokers have to “toss their butt” rather than use ashtrays.” More than 97% of cigarettes sold have filters.

So, add this to my rant earlier on the hazards of second-hand smoke and the waste of human life due to primary smoking, and you get one of the most phenomenal killers of all time. This poison is pushed by cigarette companies upon developing country markets because educated people are finally getting the message, smoking kills more than any other source of death in the world and pollutes at a comparable rate. Why do we continue to tolerate this selling of poison when it would clearly be illegal if it were brought to the market for the first time now?

Stop smoking, everywhere, once and for all, it is not a right, it is a crime…

References and Links:

Wikipedia – Cigarette butts are litter
“Cigarette butts are the most numerically frequent litter in the world.”

Health Statistics > Tobacco > Cigarette consumption (total adult smokers) by country notes that as of 2005, Turkey was number 7!

50 thousand butts in one hourCigarette butts are a huge toxic waste problem
“The numbers on this web page reflect the number of cigarettes consumed. This does not mean that the discarded cigarette butts were all littered. No one knows the number of cigarette butts which are littered each year.”

In 2007 more than 2 billion cigarette filters, cigar tips, and tobacco packaging accounted for 38% of worldwide debris.

seagull trying to eat a cigarette buttCigarette butt data from The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup says “In the past 26 years of cleanups, volunteers found Fifty-five million cigarettes butts, which if stacked vertically, would be as tall as 3,613 Empire State Buildings!…cigarettes top the list of trash found on the beaches with plastic bags coming in 4th.

From an article called, Cigarette Butts as Litter – Toxic as Well as Ugly.
By Kathleen Register “Underwater Naturalist” Bulletin of the American Littoral Society
Volume 25, Number 2, August 2000
“leached chemicals from cigarette filters are deadly to the water flea Daphnia magna, a small crustacean at the lower end of, but important to the aquatic food chain.”

  • Cigarettes are the number one source of litter in the world, with an estimated several trillion littered annually.
    Cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable — they are made of plastic fibers.
    Littered cigarette filters contain toxic chemicals which are released into the environment.
    Cigarette litter causes numerous fires every year, many of which are fatal.

It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That’s billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, beaches, nature trails, gardens, and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, NOT COTTON, and they can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal.

As if second-hand smoke isn’t bad enough, we also have to put up with smoker’s throwaway butts, made of a NON-biodegradable material; cellulose plastic.

95% of cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic slow to degrade.

Cigarette butts accumulate in the environment due to the popularity of plastic cigarette filters and the habit some smokers have to “toss their butt” rather than use ashtrays. More than 97% of cigarettes sold have filters.

“The filters on one pack of 20 cigarettes weigh 0.12 ounces (with no tobacco attached) and displaces a volume of 10 ml. With annual world-wide production of cigarettes at 5.608 trillion, the potential weight and volume of cigarette butts becomes enormous.”

(1998 world cigarette production)
number of filters ounces/pounds millilitres/liters
20 (one pack) .12 oz 10 ml
10,000 (1 smoker’s consumption) 3.75 lbs 5 liters
5,608,000,000,000 liters 2,103,000,000 lbs 2.8 billion liters

2,103,000,000 pounds (lbs) = 953,904,754,000 kilograms
2 billion, 103 million pounds = 953 billion, 904 million, 754 thousand kilograms

  • 0.12 ounce = 0.003,401,942,775 kilogram
    1 lb = 16 ounce
    1 cubic meter = 1,000,000 millilitre

    1998:
    470 billion cigarette filters = 4,700,000 cubic meters
    2007:
    360 billion cigarette filters = 3,600,000 cubic meters

“The 470 billion cigarettes smoked in the United States in 1998 translates to a total of 176,250,000 (million) pounds (80,113,000 (million) Kg) of discarded butts in one year in the United States alone. If a filter displaces a volume of 10 ml. then the 1998 cigarette consumption would be 4,700,000,000,000 ml (over 4 trillion, 700 billion ml) or 4,700,000 cubic meters.

Tobacco consumption chartCigarettes Consumed In The United States
In 2007 – 360 billion (Estimate by USDA)
In 2010 – 307.2 billion (Estimate by USDA)
“The USDA estimates that consumption in the U.S. is decreasing due to the cumulative effects of higher prices, higher State taxes, restrictions on smoking, and increased awareness of links between smoking and disease”

Turkey’s tobacco production constitutes 4 percent of global production of 7 million tonnes, placing Turkey fifth after China, India, United States of America and Brazil.

A Boeing 747-8F “Jumbojet” cargo aircraft can accommodate 148 tons (295,800 lb) (134,000 kg) of cargo for a total capacity of 855 cubic meters (30,177 cubic feet). It would take nearly 4,200 of these aircraft to carry away the cigarette butts the United States smoked in 2007…(and to where would they carry them?)

Cigarette butts take up a large volume of space. If one person smokes a pack-and-a half a day, he will consume more than 10,000 cigarettes in a year. This number of cigarette butts (filters only, not including remnant tobacco) will fill a volume of five liters. Worldwide annual consumption of cigarettes creates enough cigarette butt waste to fill more than 2,800,000,000 liters (2,800,000 cubic meters)”.

“The filters from the approximate world production of over 5.608 trillion cigarettes would weigh more than 2.1 billion pounds (approximately 1 billion kilos or over 1 million tons). This figure does not include the weight of the tobacco still attached to the filter, or the packaging, matches, disposable lighters, and other “collateral” waste that is generated by smoking”.

CigaretteLitter.org – FAQ/Fallacies

  • They are biodegradable.
    What else am I supposed to do with them?
    It is harmless, it is just a small cigarette butt.
    It serves everybody right for making me smoke outside and taxing my cigarettes.
    Everybody else does it.
    Everybody has a vice, this is mine.

Toxic parks, cigarette butts and childrenA study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“…small children who had ingested cigarette butts concluded that one-third of them exhibited symptoms of illness such as spontaneous vomiting, nausea, lethargy, gagging, and flushing. Cigarette butts leach toxins into the water and kill or injure various forms of wildlife. In addition, the plastic parts of cigarette butts can be ingested by fish, birds, whales and other marine animals.”

No-Smoke.org
“Ingestion of more than 1 cigarette or 3 cigarette butts can cause serious symptoms in a toddler.”

Clean Virginia Waterways
“Cigarette butts also present a threat to wildlife. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food … Composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, cigarette butts can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic.”

What happens after that butt gets casually flicked onto the street, nature trail, or beach? Typically wind and rain carry the cigarette into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals the cigarette filter was designed to trap leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening the quality of the water and many aquatic lifeforms.

CigaretteLitter.Org
“an informal, non-profit organization dedicated to dramatically reducing cigarette litter across the United States. Our goal is to accomplish this task by raising public awareness of the issue and educating communities about the facts regarding cigarette litter. We want to form a network of smokers and non-smokers, individuals and businesses, non-profit and government organizations, local police and fire departments, and anyone else who shares our goal of a national landscape free of cigarette litter.”

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