S mokers, you have more reasons to quit. They are all hazardous waste, every year billions of cigarette butts and snuff ends up on our beaches in our lakes and rivers, in our fish and ocean ecosystem, whales, porpoises, crustaceans, and more are under threat from smoking-related debris. 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.” Numerous other forms of sea life including plankton, seaweed, and coral reefs are also put at risk. According to Whales Alive, each cigarette contains more than 3,900 chemicals including nicotine, cyanide, ammonia, cadmium, acetone and arsenic. Cigarette butts, often tossed into the sand or the sea by smokers, contain the toxic residue of all of these. A recent ‘Clean Up Australia’ Rubbish report indicates cigarette butts are the most common item of litter collected at 12% (45,912), and unfortunately, seabirds, mammals and some fish ingest them–and their toxins. But even worse, as the butts swell in the stomach of the animal they cause false satiation and believing it’s full, the animal stops eating and eventually starves to death. This has been reported for many sea turtles and birds, as well as some kinds of fish.
Rubbish report indicates cigarette butts are the most common item of litter collected at 12% (45,912), and unfortunately, seabirds, mammals and some fish ingest them–and their toxins.
Air pollution effecting the ocean is another serious consequence of smoking. Tobacco smoke contains over 170 toxins, including arsenic, benzene and hydrogen cyanide. Thirty-three of these toxins are classified as hazardous air pollutants and 67 are known human or animal carcinogens(4). Also present are trace amounts of radioactive material, as the tobacco plant absorbs lead-210 and polonium-210 from the soil in which it grows. Radiation is released into the atmosphere when cigarettes are smoked, and can also leach into soil and water through discarded butts.