How often do you find yourself tossing a cigarette butt out of your car window, or knocking a cigarette on the ground as you stood outside for a 15-minute break? But would it be different if you know how your actions may have affected the environment?
Cigarette butt is among the most common litters found in the US and around the globe. This can be attributed to two factors. First, the lack of awareness among smokers, and second, the lack of waste containers on smoking areas, such as outside the buildings, stores, and other public places.
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic like material that takes 18 months to 10 years to decompose. But that’s not the end of it. Used filters contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Tar and other chemicals pollute the soil and water, killing living organisms that come into contact with them.
Some Facts about Cigarette Filters
- Filters are intended to absorb various toxins from cigarette smoke and hold solid particles or what is known as tar. They are also designed to prevent tobacco from reaching the smoker’s mouth.
- Majority of cigarette filters have a cellulose acetate core and two layers of covering, usually paper or rayon.
- A single filter contains more than 12 000 micro cellulose acetate fibers.
- Papers used in cigarettes contain chemicals to control the burning rate. Calcium carbonate is also used to achieve whiter color.
Pollutants Found in Cigarette Butts
Cigarette butts filled with various toxins find their way into the waterways through storm drains which later are dumped into bodies of water like streams and lakes. Studies have shown that a single cigarette butt in a two-gallon water is enough to kill water fleas, small crustaceans living in salt and fresh waters. And to make it worst, small amounts of tobacco that are left together with the cigarette filters are more toxic than the filters.
Also, cigarette filters are great threat to the wildlife. Cigarette butts can be mistakenly eaten by animals in the wild which can cause serious problem. Toddlers and small children are also at risk.
Discarded cigarette butts may also cause forest fire, thereby posing major environmental threat. Each year, forest fires destroys large areas, killing vegetation and wildlife that take years to reappear. Though most of those forest fires are caused by natural forces such as drought, lightening, etc. Still 90,000 fires each year are caused by cigarettes in the US alone.
Fires due to discarded cigarette butts kill hundreds of Americans annually, and injure thousands. Not to mention the millions worth of property damage.
Everything about cigarettes threatens life, including the environment. It pollutes the soil, the air, the water, and your body. Smoking kills you slowly, robbing you of your health before it finally takeover of your life.
Take steps and quit smoking now. Not only you’ll save your health, you’ll also have the chance to lessen the deterioration of the environment. Live a smoke-free life.