Credit: Mathew MacQuarrie

Now Cigarettes are Destroying The Oceans and Everything In Them

by | November 17, 2018

While environmentalists and activists across the globe have been on a mission lately to rid the oceans of plastic straws, there’s something even worse floating around in our seas and it doesn’t seem to be getting much attention, and how cigarettes are destroying the oceans and everything in them.

The stinky offender: Cigarette butts! According to a report by NBC News cigarette butts are the number one human-caused contaminant in the world’s oceans, and somehow it has managed to avoid regulation thus far.

The cause for concern seems to be cigarette filters, which Thomas Novotny, professor of public health at San Diego State University, told NBC News had “no health benefit”. He added that it “seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this.”

cigarettes are destroying the oceans
Credit: Elena Taranenko

Filters of the 5.6 trillion cigarettes (two-thirds of which are dumped irresponsibly) made around the world each year are composed of cellulose acetate, which can take more than a decade to decompose. Since 1986 cigarette butts have been the most collected item of ocean beaches, with about 60 million found in 32 years. That amounts to about one-third of all collected items and more than plastic wrappers, containers, bottle caps, eating utensils and bottles, combined.

Cigarettes Are Destroying The Oceans

A campaign called the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project is hoping to change attitudes towards cigarette filters. “Cigarette butt waste has polluted our beaches, parks, and communities long enough – it’s time to take action!” they wrote on their website.


In the US, some attempts have been made to pass legislation to ban filters, or raising the cost of cigarettes to cover clean-up funds, to try and stop how
cigarettes are destroying the oceans. 

Obviously, the war on plastic straws is a great start, showing how easy it really is to make a difference with just a small change to your daily life, there is still much more we can do to clean up our oceans. So either kick that nasty habit or pick up after yourself before you choke the oceans as well as the air!

Do you smoke? How do you feel about how cigarettes are destroying the oceans

Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]


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