Plastic straws seem to be getting all the attention lately, with large cities like Vancouver and Seattle banning the use of them, and major corporations like Starbucks and Mcdonald's implementing their own bans, citing ocean pollution.
According to environmental experts, there is a far worse polluter damaging the oceans we swim in, poisoning the fish we eat, and consuming the tax dollars we spend that we should be focusing on instead.
A report published by NBC News declared that cigarette butts are the single greatest source of ocean pollution and are also the most littered item on earth
The tiny plastic particles located in the filters of cigarettes take decades to decompose, and they provide smokers with no actual health benefit. Cigarette filters were created in the 1950s by the tobacco industry to make smoking "healthier," though we now know these claims were fraudulent, according to the World Health Organization.
The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project plans to "eradicate" cigarette butts and tobacco waste from the environment.
According to The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, nearly 1.9 trillion cigarette filters are littered each year, many of which contain dangerous chemicals like nicotine, arsenic, and heavy metals.
The World Health Organization stated, “Tossing a cigarette butt on the ground has since become one of the most accepted forms of littering globally and borders on a social norm for many smokers,” and because of this, around 680 million kilograms of tobacco waste litters the world each year. In addition, tobacco waste contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals, which accumulates in the environment, and ends up in our streets, drains, and water.
The Truth Initiative, an anti-smoking organization located in the United States of America also launched a campaign targeting cigarette butts, calling them “the most littered item in the world.”
Greenbutts, a San Diego startup, is developing an organic cigarette filter, made of ingredients like hemp that quickly break down in soil or water. The company says their product is ready for the market and can be sold at a reasonable price if mass produced.
Furthermore, the International Coastal Cleanup, an initiative founded in 1986 by the Ocean Conservancy, has millions of volunteers from around the world clean up litter from beaches and waterways annually. Nick Mallos, director of the campaign, stated: "Since inception, cigarette butts have been the most common item found every year." Nick Mallos also mentioned that educating people on the [negative] impact cigarette filters have on the environment is key, "so letting people know it’s not just flicking away paper and tobacco, but also plastic that can go into the marine environment."