Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. Turns out it’s not so good for the health of the planet, either. Cigarettes might go up in smoke but the butts remain and account for 1.7 billion pounds of non-biodegradable trash.
According to ButtsOut, cigarette butt litter is the world’s greatest environmental litter problem with approx 4.3 trillion cigarette butts tossed onto roads, pavements, beaches, parks, forests and in waterways every year.
Further breakdown indicates that smokers in the U.S. account for over 250 billion cigarette butts, those in the UK account for 200 tons of butts, and Australian smokers litter over 7 billion cigarette butts annually. In fact, in most Western countries cigarette butt litter accounts for around 50% of all litter.
And it’s gotten worse since governments around the world started implementing indoor smoking bans. In America, while cigarette smoking has decreased 28%, smokers are increasingly dropping cigarette butts on the ground, in planters, and throwing them into the waterway. Why? Probably due to a combined lack of awareness and lack of proper cigarette receptacles.
This year, the World Health Organization’s No Tobacco Day on May 31st is focusing on health warnings on tobacco product packaging as a way of encouraging smokers to quit. But perhaps instead they should be focusing on educating smokers about the damage that butt litter causes to the environment. Maybe if they realized that it takes over 25 years for cigarette butts to decompose and that they poison our waterways and kill marine life, they would stop simply throwing butts away.