While small in size, cigarette butts pose a large environmental problem. Here are a few “Not so Fun Facts”:
• During the Ocean Conservancy’s 2008 Annual International Coastal Cleanup, U.S. communities reported that cigarette butts were the most littered item on roadways, beaches, and sidewalks-representing 28% of items collected.
• Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the United States and the world. It’s estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year worldwide. It is estimated that 1.69 billion pounds (845,000 tons) of butts wind up as litter worldwide per year (Chicago Tribune. 2008 Jun 18)
• Many smokers incorrectly believe cigarette butts are made of biodegradable cotton. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, NOT COTTON, and they can take decades to degrade, but never fully decompose.
• Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment. Cigarette filters trap chemicals and when submerged in water the chemicals leach into ecosystems, threatening the quality water and aquatic life.