New report: Cigarette butts – not plastic straws – worst ocean pollutant ever
Earlier this month, Seattle became the first major American city to ban single-use plastic straws in an effort to help save the world’s oceans. Large corporations like McDonald’s, Starbucks, the Hyatt Regency, and the Marriot Hotel chain are also jumping on board and implementing their own versions of plastic straw bans. Meanwhile, a new report highlighted on NBC News, Fortune Magazine, and other venues now implicates cigarette butts as the biggest man-made contaminate to the planet.
For smokers considering a switch to vaping, consider the fact that cigarette butts take an estimated 10-years or longer to fully decompose. Experts estimate that Big Tobacco companies produce about 5.6 trillion of these nasty pollutants each and every year, and about 66 percent of those are simply flicked away irresponsibly by the smoker – often without even thinking about it.
The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project
According to the NBC News report, a new campaign named Cigarette Butt Pollution Project out of San Diego, California, is leading the advocacy charge for butt-free policies around the nation by soliciting the assistance of state and local governments, businesses, organizations, and communities. The founder of this movement is public health professor Thomas Novotny of San Diego State University.
The organization’s website points to research showing that cigarette butts leach toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the soil for the over 10-years that it takes for them to biodegrade. Novotny further states in Fortune Magazine that the cigarette butts essentially serve no real purpose, other than to make cigarettes “easier for people to smoke.”
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Even smokers in Kansas tossing their butts on the ground are contributing to the demise of the planet because the leached toxins and metallics ultimately find their way to the world’s oceans by way of rivers and streams. Meanwhile, Fortune reports that the tobacco companies themselves are well-award of the damage that these flicked butts are causing.
“And it’s not just committed activists who are aware of the potential damage of the filters—the tobacco companies themselves have reportedly looked into everything from biodegradable filters and distributing portable ashtrays to avoid being held responsible for cigarette litter. But so far, these efforts have fallen flat, with smokers predominantly preferring to flick their cigarette butts.”
In the past, Big Tobacco experimented with changing the filters’ components to cotton-based materials, but the resulting drag from the cigarette was deemed less satisfying. Some tobacco companies even attempted to design an alternative filter using paper, but the determined that the cigarette smoke tasted too harsh. Without public or governmental pressure to find a less polluting solution, Big Tobacco seems to have given up. But perhaps things are about to change now that campaigns like the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project are gaining media attention.
Congratulations vapers! You are not only quitting smoking and improving your health, you’re also helping to save the planet…one butt at a time!
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