Study: Cigarette Butts - Not Plastic Straws - Are The Worst Contaminant of Oceans
Are plastic straws as bad for the environment as we have heard? Many articles have been published over the last year about the hundreds of millions of plastic straws we produce per day even though they are thrown away after one use. This is said to be a significant cause of ocean pollution, primarily because the type of plastic that straws are made out of takes longer to decompose than most other plastics. However, straws are not the only or the most significant source of ocean trash.
Cigarette butts are an even worse source of ocean pollution than plastic straws
What may be a worse source of ocean pollution than plastic straws or even plastic bags, is cigarette butts. According to some new research, cigarette butts may do more damage to the ocean than any other single source of ocean pollution. As many as 5.6 trillion cigarettes are produced each year, and most of these are dumped in an environmentally irresponsible fashion.
If cigarettes did not have filters, the butts would be much less of an environmental issue. Arguably, the filter does not make a cigarette any less unhealthy. Instead, the filters are there because the tobacco industry noticed that people were more likely to buy filtered cigarettes, leading to almost all cigarettes being filtered today. Should the filters be banned, if they contribute to ocean pollution and do not offer any actual health benefits?
Thomas Novotny has started a campaign, the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, that is intended to lead to the filters being banned. A typical smoker would probably object to unfiltered cigarettes as being more irritating to the throat than the filtered kind, and it is difficult to take on the tobacco industry and win. However, anti-tobacco laws have become more common over the last few decades. Perhaps the campaign to ban filters could succeed after all. Plastic straws have already been banned in a dozen U.S. cities, and the use of reusable shopping bags has cut down on plastic bag pollution to some extent as well. Hopefully, efforts to halt ocean pollution can succeed, instead of being too little and too late.