The Environmental Impact On
Our Waters

Caused By Cigarette Litter

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Smoking does not just harm the individual smoker

There are a multitude of ways that smoking harms our oceans, lakes, and waterways

4.3 Trillion

Annually 4.3 trillion cigarette butts are discarded improperly around the world. They make their way into our global aquatic ecosystem causing great harm.

Creatures Large And Small

Animals can often mistake these cigarette butts for food and consume them. Often resulting in severe health complications - and often death

What Can We Do?

Educating people on how toxic cigarette butts are and raising awareness about the need to dispose of them properly are the first steps to a healthier aquatic world.

These days the health risks of smoking are well known to smokers. But the detrimental effects of smoking go well beyond just harming the individual.

Smoking is causing great harm to our oceans, lakes, rivers, bays, canals and all of our other waterways.

The vast majority of this damage is being caused by people littering with cigarette butts.

Every year 4.3 trillion cigarette butts are improperly discarded. They are the single most littered thing to ever exist in the world.

Most of these cigarette butts are disposed of on land. But many of them will be washed along by wind and rain into storm drains or directly into canals, lakes, rivers and eventually the ocean.

(To give a sense of scale of the problem - A beach clean up operation in California collected 230,000 cigarette butts. In one day.)

Once they reach our waterways they are often mistaken by all manner of aquatic life for food. The consequences are often dire for the innocent unwitting creatures that ingest them. The toxins in a cigarette are enough to cause a human sized animal discomfort when ingested. When a smaller fish or reptile swallows one, it can lead to respiratory failure and in many cases - death.

And to make this issue even worse.Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They take up to 25 years to degrade. As they do they are releasing their 165+ toxic chemicals into the water.

A cigarette butt might seem small, and the amount of toxins they release may seem low. But when you account for the 4.3 trillion of them improperly discarded every year - you can see how this can easily add up.

The toxins released degrade water quality and harm aquatic life. Delicate organisms like coral that require very specific conditions to survive are particularly at risk from this.

There can be no butts about it. Cigarette litter is harming aquatic life every day, all over the world.

It is about time we dispose of cigarettes responsibly, like the toxic waste they are.
There are a few things that we can do to help reduce the amount of cigarette litter that makes it into our waters.

Many people are unaware that their discarded cigarette butts end up in our oceans and waterways. Many people are unaware of how damaging cigarette litter is to aquatic life.

Educating people and raising awareness of this issue will go a long way to encouraging them to discard their cigarette butts correctly and responsibly. Reducing the amount of litter that makes it into the water.

Increasing the amount of ashtrays available to smokers would also reduce the scale of the problem. Many smokers do not wish to litter but often they do not have anywhere to put their butts. This being said, it is not practical to put a ashtray on every street.

But there have been several innovative initiatives to encourage the use of ashtrays that are currently available. Such as this voting booth ashtray pictured below.

What is much more practical than millions of new ashtrays is encouraging the use of personal ashtrays.

These pocket sized containers are very easy to use and designed to be portable. Some cigarettes are now being sold with them inside the packet. Once full they can then be free posted to a recycling facility to be disposed of properly.

Our oceans and waterways are the lifeblood of our fragile world. The health of our global ecosystem depends on us keeping them free from this toxic waste.

Join us in spreading the word.

At the bottom of this page you will find more reading on this often overlooked topic alongside various resources to help you quit smoking.

If you have any other questions about this awareness campaign, please get in contact with us using the email address here