postheadericon Are cigarette butts litter?

Dirty little habits, they invade our lives at all levels, ours, theirs, after awhile we get desensitized, don’t even notice them anymore.  Next time you are at a traffic light pay attention to the guy/gal in the car in front of you – you know the one with the cigarette butt dangling lazily from the end of their fingers.  Now look on the median strip or shoulder next to you and I’ll bet you there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of cigarette butts covering the ground.   It’s just crazy to me that so many people don’t even consider cigarette butts litter.

Cigarettes have over 4000 chemicals, many that are released into the air as toxins when they are burned, then adding insult to injury a vast majority of cigarette refuse ends up on our roads, our yards, our beaches and washes into storm drains that empty into the ocean.  Most cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form or plastic.  The white fibers you see in a cigarette filter are not cotton, but a plastic that can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic.  Some estimate as long as 8-10 years.  The 470 billions cigarettes consumed in the US in 1998 translated to a total of 176,250,000 lbs. of discarded butts in one year.

In addition to educational programs aimed at reducing the smoking population it will take a multi-tiered effort to bring cigarette litter to the into focus.  Combinations of public ashtrays, volunteer clean up crews, enforcing litter laws, distribution of pocket ashtrays and raising public awareness will be necessary to change this silent behavior.  But it starts with personal awareness, look around and see Hawaii being used as an ashtray and it’s hard to turn away.


One Response to “Are cigarette butts litter?”

  • JP Kaloi:

    I agree that its easy for people to overlook cigarettes and think they don’t really count as littering. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t want it in your own backyard, then don’t leave it in someone else’s!!

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