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The Cigarette Butt Ecological Nightmare Problem - What it is, and what to do and not to do about it.

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posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 01:40 AM
The Cigarette Butt Problem

Seems we have a major potential health problem that Is going unnoticed. It is the danger of harming the environment through cigarette butt pollution.

"You're Kidding", you may say. How could something so tiny be a big problem?

As the smart child with the cell phone will tell you, Everything I learned in Kindergarten I learned from Wikipedia - (sorry Robert LOL)

Wikipedia has this to say on the topic of Cigarette Filters,

First, we have tons of the stuff everywhere.

In the 2006 International Coastal Cleanup, the number of individual cigarettes and cigarette butts collected amounted to 24.7% of the total number of garbage items collected, over twice as many items as any other category.

2nd, they are not Biodegradable .

Most cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate. Cigarette filters contain twelve thousand plastic-based fibers, and just like other forms of plastic, 'they do not biodegrade' The leftover filter is the most common form of litter; International Coastal Cleanup volunteers collect an estimated 53 million cigarette butts each year. The filters' non-biodegradability increases landfill demands, adds costs to municipalities' waste-disposal programs, and creates environmental blight in public spaces.

3rd Even a single cigarette butt can kill whole fish populations which could of course lead to a major decline in the food chain in that area. Imagine someone emptying out an ash tray at the edge of a pond. It could ruin the whole ecosystem.

What may be surprising is the level of toxicity found in a single cigarette butt. Using standard tests adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Novotny and other researchers discovered that a cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water for four days will kill both the topsmelt and the freshwater fathead minnow fish species.The pollution caused by cigarette butts turns out to be a double-barreled problem: the 4,800 chemical compounds in cigarettes, at least 69 of which are carcinogenic, plus plastic filters that contain dangerous compounds and are not biodegradable.

This resistance to biodegrading is a factor in littering. environmental damage and suggested lung damage.

And this from SanDiago State University.

According to Novotny's recent article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an estimated 1.69 billion pounds (845,000 tons) of butts wind up as litter worldwide per year. In addition, the annual Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup reports that "cigarette butts have been the single most recovered item since collections began."

This California lawmaker thinks the butt toxicity problem is so bad he wants to ban the sale of filters in the state of California!

Citing the immense damage to wildlife and public health caused by discarded cigarette filters, a California legislator is seeking to ban sales of filter-tipped cigarettes in the state. Assembly Bill 1504, introduced this week by Monterey-area Assemblymember Mark Stone, would make it illegal to sell or give away filtered cigarettes in California, with a relatively stiff fine attached for each violation.

"Cigarette filters leach dangerous chemicals into the environment, kill animals that eat them, and cause communities to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for clean-up," Stone said in a press release.

The bill would make it illegal to sell, give away, or order any cigarettes with "single-use" filters in the state, with fines of $500 for each violation. (A single violation is defined as up to 20 cigarettes, so that selling a pack or giving a stranger a single cigarette would both merit $500 fines.) If passed, though unlikely, the law would force smokers to use non-filtered cigarettes or carry around and use a reusable filter.

Most commonly available cigarette filters are mainly made of fibers of the plastic cellulose acetate, which can take more than a decade to fall apart on exposure to the elements. Though cellulose acetate is a relatively benign material, smokers coat the filters' fibers with toxic tar and nicotine compounds by the act of smoking. Nicotine in discarded filters is known to pose a serious risk to small children. More than 13,000 calls to poison control centers from 2006 through 2008 involved kids eating cigarette butts, and other studies show that it's kids a year old or less that are at the most risk.

Now the idea of millions of tiny non biodegradable highly toxic pieces of an Environmentalists nightmare, tends to make sense.

The problem is of course, to solve this, you need to attack all 3 sides of the problem. You need to solve the, Lots of them being thrown all over the place problem then the, Biodegradable problem and finally the, How do you contain the high toxicity in each butt from leeching into the environment problem.

It's almost like we should be carrying around hazardous waste containers to put the butts in for proper disposal!


Wait.. if you don't think thats bad enough.. that's Not the only problem I'm talking about in my title - The plot thickens...

So, for obvious reasons I look up "Biodegradable Filters" because I was sure someone had capitalized on that by now (it's such an easy thing to do) The Wikipedia article on cigarette filters above seems to suggest non biodegradable filters are a bad thing - thats a form of Spin - we don't want or need biogdradable filters and this company illustrates why.

I found GreenButts Just scrool down, the entire webpage can be viewed from the main page. They use hemp, cotton and flax to make the filters and it's all biodegradable "rapidly biodegradable within days" says the video. I was happy and encouraged at first to find such a product.

On closer examination of the website, I noticed they didn't say anything about containing the toxicity in the filter as to protect it from leeching (and how could they.. it's biodegradable after all). I suppose it will just seep into the soil with the filter as the filter biodegrades. In fact, they think thats o.k. because that filter will sprout Flowers for your enjoyment! That is a selling point of the product!

The company encourages users to collect their green butts in a planter instead of an ashtray and watch them grow into green grass shoots or flowers... we're not quite sure exactly what sort of flowers.

This may encourage people to 'plant' them everywhere. Even if not done on purpose, once all your cigarette companies are using this "safer" filter they will propagate like all other filters do today.. they get everywhere. These things could actually encourage the spreading of toxins all over the world. No.. not could - Would.. we have a huge filter problem as it is now, switching filters isn't going to cause folks to throw out less filters - especially since they sprout flowers - people will think it's cool and care even less knowing it's biodegradable, not caring about the toxins. A heavy rain pour can cause these things to quickly degrade into the ground on the spot.

Continued in next post.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 01:41 AM
I wondered why it could be they don't seem to care about the toxcity side of the problem. This attitude toward smoking and health related issues feels like Big Tobacco.

Then I noticed the Board of Advisors section - be sure not to miss this. Two of them are lawyers and the other two have years of experience working in the "big tobacco" industry (many major brands) and the filter manufacturing industries. It's no wonder they saw the oppertunity in this and a good way to spin it.

Even the treehuggers love it though as noted here. Are they all confused?

So I emailed them asking about the toxicity leaching into the soil. How would the product negate this side effect? I am awaiting the reply.

I'll post an update in the thread if they email me back.

Surely they must know.. but no where on the website can you find mention of the toxicity from the tobacco smoke. They do not make any claims as to the flter making smoking any healthier nor do they adreess the contents of the filter at all on the site. Did they think the cigarette was not going to produce toxins simply because they use a natural filter? I wonder if that's what they want people to think.

Their problem is they didn't seek to solve all the problems cigarette butts have. They only cared about fixing one part. The mind boggling thing to me is they have to Know they are making it super easy for these toxins to get into the soil now more than ever before. How could they not? It's So Obvious. It's Unbelievable to think these folks actually cannot see a biodegradable filter will cause the toxins to leech into the soil faster and more efficiently.

Even Homer Simpson isn't that dense.

It's not like we are just now finding out filters contain toxins from the tobacco smoke - people have been screaming about it using EPA data to prove it for many years. Here is an example from the year 2000. This data shows the toxicity levels that kill various marine life. Cigarette Butts as Litter—Toxic as Well as Ugly

Cigarette butts are the most common type of litter on earth. Collected, they weigh in the millions of pounds. The toxic chemicals absorbed by cigarettes' cellulose acetate filters and found in butts' remnant tobacco, are quickly leached from the butts by water.

The evidence indicates that the toxic chemicals leached from discarded cigarette butts present a biohazard to the water flea at concentrations of more than 0.125 butts per liter, or about one butt per two gallons of water. The leachate from the remnant tobacco portion of a cigarette butt is deadlier at smaller concentrations than are the chemicals that leach out of the filter portion of a butt.

Do we really need biodegradable filters that actually do the oppisite of the goal we are trying to reach here?


O.k. so now I've said a lot, you may be wondering if I have any answers? In fact, I do! (You may disagree)

Education is the Key. Cigarette filters are a toxic biohazard waste material that needs to be disposed of properly. Let's treat it as such.

I'd make littering even a single cigarette butt a heavy fine and post official Biohazard Waste Disposal Units just for cigarettes butts all over the place replacing all normal ashtrays. In public places it would be mandatory that you use them instead of any other way. All Biohazard Waste Disposal Units will be marked clearly as such even with a fancy Biohazard symbol. I imagine this can be set up much like the recycling bin program got started. I guess that's something you need to get your friends and neighbors together for at the next town hall meeting and discuss the possibilities.

The idea is to slowly change the perception of the masses towards a new way of thinking about cigarette butts. Americans at least have changed their minds about a great many things in a short number of years. We are more accepting of blacks, gays, Middle Eastereners and weed for example than we were even 20 years ago.

Imagine if you woke up everyday for the next ten years and have to put your butt in an official Biohazard Waste Disposal Unit. You commonly witness efforts to massively educate people on the dangers of toxins in cigarette filters as a biohazard waste product. It would not be long before you find yourself not think it's strange at all. Like the recycling bins, people choose to start using them in their homes and contribute to the program. People need to think of cigarette butts as something that is dangerous to have laying around. We need to associate spent butts the same way in our minds with toxcity as we do for blood, animal feces, virus or bacteria. Even to the smokers.

So we lessen the impact on the environment - how do we dispose of them properly?

We can't just let them wind up at the dump. The filters must be disposed of by official methods of disposal for biohazardous waste materials, whatever those may be in your area.

My solution may create jobs everywhere too.. that would be cool. Btw, the biodegradable cigarette butt isn't a bad idea in itself IF you can control them to the point they do not wind up back in the environment. A biodegradable filter would be way easier on the eviornment if they are burned as part of the disposal process as opposed to synthetic fibers filters are made with today. I don't know that they do that for biohazard waste but if so, I wouldn't consider biodegradable butts until I were 100% sure they could be contained which would probably be when smoking tobacco is outlawed.

edit on 4-8-2014 by JohnPhoenix because: sp

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 01:57 AM
a reply to: JohnPhoenix

I urge everyone to boycott cigarettes!!


Big tobacco won't change because they don't have to.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:00 AM
a reply to: JohnPhoenix

Wow great write up and I certainly never knew much of the stuff you posted.. If everyone who smoked switched to unfiltered Lucky Strikes as my grand daddy used to smoke (died at 88 but would have lived until at least 90 if he had not smoked) then the problem would be solved, no ? Wonder if these new filters will be placed on some future manufactured Pot cigarette.. Now if they did that the whole flowers and planting thing makes sense.. Ta Da !

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:00 AM
The solution is E-cigs, pure and simple.

But Big Tobacco would not consider this as an option and in fact are trying to ban E-cigs all over the place.

I would have thought that the toxicity of the butt would have been the same as a leaf or two from the tobacco plant so perhaps anti-smoking groups may have an agenda here, because it just does not make sense.

Making the filters out of something else is very easy, it just needs to be done.

Next thing you know they will start talking about the CO2 emissions of smoking, wait for it, it won't be long. Global warming via the smokers and think of the heat generated by all of those cigs burning away.


edit on 4/8/2014 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)

+1 more 
posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:05 AM
Now the anti-smoking lobby doesn't want ashtrays in cars, people toss 100% of their butts out of the window.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:08 AM
In this day and age. Really anybody who smokes should only be vaping. It helps you, it helps the environment, it helps the world.

I challenge any smoker to it. Buy a decent Ecig (not a Blu, or a Njoy, or any of the ones the tobacco companies are pushing. Those are fake E-cigs and they taste awful plus are expensive.)

Drop 60 dollars on a decent battery, a tank, and a charger. Ecig Liquid costs about 20$ for a bottle that should last you almost a month. Even cheaper online.

Anyways Vape for two weeks. Just two weeks. Get a strong nicotine content liquid if you must.

After two weeks, smoke a cigarette. I guarantee you you will be almost sick by the smell and feeling it gives you alone. A cigarette has literally hundreds of chemicals inside added. A good Ecig juice has 4 chemicals in it. Nicotine, Propylene Glycol, Vegetable glycerin, and flavoring of your choice. That is all.

You're lungs will thank you, you're breath will thank you, and your loved ones will thank you. Your wallet will even thank you.

OP - thank you for the great write up. Some of these facts you presented are very shocking to me. It is definitely a big problem. One only need go outside in any urban or even not so urban but well traveled area and you can literally count the cig butts into the hundreds within minutes. Very disgusting especially considering how toxic they are as you have presented here.
edit on 4-8-2014 by lightedhype because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:09 AM
I quit smoking 6 years ago. Almost all of my friends still do. I cant stand it anymore, how people willingly put carcinogens into their lungs and into the environment, and then just drop the butts on the ground... its deplorable. Even when I smoked heavily, I had to be the only person who carried the spent ones all the way to a garbage can.

They're not only killing themselves, but everyone around them and the environment too. So awful... I tried to convince my friends at least to buy straight tobacco and rolling papers so they wouldnt be as bad (from the chemicals), but they all said it would take too long... long story short quitting smoking was the best thing I ever did.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:12 AM
a reply to: JohnPhoenix

In the 2006 International Coastal Cleanup, the number of individual cigarettes and cigarette butts collected amounted to 24.7% of the total number of garbage items collected, over twice as many items as any other category

Let me guess ,,and one derelict Oil Tanker counts as one item,,

ya can pretty much spin the agenda any way ya want nowadays and people will buy it...

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 02:38 AM
Yaaaaaawwwwnnnn .... yet another attack on smoking ..

How about do away with factories .. automobiles .. aircraft .. electrical power plant.. plastic packaging .. styrofoam and pretty much everything people take for granted that makes modern life possible . All do far more damage than smoking ..

*fires up cigar and wanders off*

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 04:22 AM

originally posted by: Expat888
Yaaaaaawwwwnnnn .... yet another attack on smoking ..

How about do away with factories .. automobiles .. aircraft .. electrical power plant.. plastic packaging .. styrofoam and pretty much everything people take for granted that makes modern life possible . All do far more damage than smoking ..

*fires up cigar and wanders off*

Huh? I'm not attacking smoking at all. My solution allows for people to smoke only dispose of their filter in a certain way. The folk who make biodegradable filters certainly aren't attacking tobacco. Er.. did you even read the post?

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 04:39 AM
This is why you should only smoke Camel straights--which you cant get in Australia anymore

An old gardener I use to know would insist they were the best sort of inorganic mulch to use on his tomatos, he claimed that the chemicals in them acted as a pesticide.

No, those tomatoes did not "taste like grandma", no "tomacco" resulted.

Personally I prefer to use wormwood as a natural pesticide.

Now can someone where smoking isnt illegal please send me a pack of Camel straights????

+1 more 
posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 04:57 AM
a reply to: JohnPhoenix

You ARE attacking smokers.

Anti-smokers are "creating" the cigarette butt litter.

1. Cigarette butts are non-biodegradable.

True but also false. Cigarette butts are photo-degradable. And once exposed to ultra-violet light, biodegradation begins. The estimates for cigarette butts to break down are from 3 months to 10-15 years with the "consensus" being 10 to 15 years.

So something as easy as measuring the break down of a cigarette butt is subject to "consensus"? That isn't science. That is propaganda!

2. Show me just one example of a fish kill caused by a cigarette butt. the filter may break down first by photo-degradation and then bio-degradation but the "chemicals" are all organic. When a house burns down - is the soil "toxic". Does rain water flow through the site, enter waterways and kill fish?

3, In the whole history of the world, what other item of litter is "counted" individually to make it the number 1 ecological disaster.

4. Anti-smokers campaign to take ashtrays away from smokers (even in private cars) knowing that people would be forced to toss the butt. Then they use that circumstance to attack smokers even more.

5. Why are smoker required to pay special littering fines when other people toss things like plastic coke bottles that end up as small shards that kill birds and fish?????

6, Want to end the problem? Provide smokers with indoor locations were they can sit down with individual ashtrays!

Far as I am concerned, anti-smokers created the problem and the governement can use the billions of dollars that smokers pay in taxes to solve the problem. Nobody else pays what we pay in taxes.

I will continue to toss my butt at will until I am treated with dignity. If I am denied all of the advantages of society, then why should I assume society's concerns?

Tired of Control Freaks

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 05:14 AM
a reply to: TiredofControlFreaks

I smoke (pack a day), but I find you attitude of just tossing your butts abhorrent. Sure I have done it, but not out of contempt, out of sheer necessity. If there is a bin around I will extinguish my ciggie and dispose of it in the bin. There is an actual risk to the public if I dont.

Maybe you dont live in a place that is prone to catastrophic bush-fires, but seriously, reconsider the behaviour. This is not about control freaks, its about responsibility for your own actions.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 05:34 AM
a reply to: TiredofControlFreaks

Umm, bring your own friggin ash tray in your car.

There are no garbage cans built in my car, but I don't throw out my trash on the road as I'm driving.

If you are tired of Control Freaks act like a responsible citizen, you sound like a teenager who is slamming their door screaming at their parents "you don't understand me".

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 05:38 AM
a reply to: Expat888

I agree, the anti-smoking group will do anything and EVERYTHING to push their agenda on everyone!!

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 05:43 AM
a reply to: RifRAAF

I don't live in an area that is prone to bush fires!

I will continue to express my contempt for a society that thinks its okay to financially rape me at will, deny me my constitutional right to peaceful assembly, deny me jobs and housing and treat me like a leper.

I am a smoker. I don't want to "vape". I want to smoke tobacco. I have been a law-abiding citizen and a full tax-payer all my life. I am so law-abiding that I think twice before jay-walking. However, I now have contempt for the law and for my fellow citizens who allowed this all to happen.

I spent my life raising children as a single parent. I didn't ask for anything and I have no regrets about my decision or the sacrifices I had to make. One of those sacrifices was to not spend any of my resources on socializing. Now I am at the point in my life where I finally have some disposable income, I still can't socialize with my friends!

I don't care if you find my attitude abhorrent!

What are you doing, as a smoker, to fight back and regain your simple human dignity??? Nothing, right! Well I find that abhorrent!

Tired of Control Freaks

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 05:53 AM
a reply to: zardust

I want to be able to buy a car that has an ashtray. Do you create garbage while you drive??? NO - you don't! Therefore you don't need a garbage can while you drive, do you??? I smoke in my car, while I drive. I need a convenient ashtray. The portable ashtrays are intended to go into a cup holder. Then what do I do with my coffee? Further the portable ashtrays are inconvenient. If you leave the lid open while you are smoking, there is nowhere to put out the fire. If you buy the kind with a hole that you stick the butt into, you risk a fire while you are driving.

I want to be able to buy a car with an ashtray. BUT I CAN'T! Anti-smokers convinced car companies to remove the ashtray to "discourage" smoking. Why should they have control over the type of car I buy?

I want a place to sit while I smoke and an ashtray. This is the same as you wanting a place to sit while you eat and then a garbage can to dump the leftovers!

BUT I CAN'T!~ The anti-smokers feel that if smokers can smoke while sitting, it will encourage smoking.

I sound like a teen-ager whose parents don't understand me. Sir - smokers are the most studied group on the planet. They have studied me to death and figured out every single way they can to make smoking into an inconvenience to "encourage" me to stop smoking. They understand me very very well and have used that understanding to financially rape me worse than Big Tobacco ever did.

I am a pissed off consumer. I pay for golf courses for the rich, health insurance for kids.

Would you mind horribly if I get something back for all the money I give?

Tired of Control Freaks

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 06:05 AM
a reply to: TiredofControlFreaks

So you litter to make your point?

Are you serious? Its not that inconvenient to use a portable ash tray. I have friends who do.

Look I'm cool with people doing what they want to do, I think all drugs should be legalized. But I sure as hell don't want heroin users dumping their needles on the side of the road because car manufacturers don't make biohazard waste bins in their vehicles.

And yes I do produce garbage, I eat while I drive, which you might make a small argument that eating is a necessity compared to inhaling carcinogens. think of all the people who eat on their drives. I demand built in garbage cans in all vehicles.

Crap bring an empty pop can with a little water in it. It costs you next to nothing.

posted on Aug, 4 2014 @ 06:10 AM
a reply to: zardust

NO! And if I have a pop can with water - where will I put my coffee?

Give me some respect or get disrespected in return!

You still haven't come up with a reason why I can't buy a car with an ashtray? Why is that? Can't think of one? You like creating a problem for smokers and watching smokers scramble to come up with a viable solution. You like watching the indignity and then using it as an excuse to castigate smokers some more?

Tired of Control Freaks

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