Before I start I will admit I am a non-smoker that has never taken up the habit. It is also fair to say that I am not a fan of cigarette smoking. One of my many objections to cigarette smoking is cigarette butt litter. It is dangerous, illegal and bad for the environment.
Cigarette butt litter is a growing problem in Australia, particularly since the banning of smoking in office buildings, and more recently in pubs and clubs. Australians litter more than seven billion butts each year, with the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index showing that cigarette butts make up a staggering 49% of litter.
Cigarette butts are harmful to our environment and can take years to break down. They can leach toxic chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and zinc into water within one hour of contact and can be carried by stormwater into our rivers and bays, potentially harming our marine life.
Did You Also Know?
- Cigarette butt litter is the world’s greatest environmental litter problem?
- Globally, approximately 4.3 trillion butts are littered every year. In Australia we contribute around 7 billion of those cigarette butts annually. In most western countries cigarette butt litter accounts for around 50% of all litter!
- Almost 1 in every 3 cigarette butts end up as litter.
- Young children are known to pick up and ingest cigarette butts. Reports have described severe toxicity among children who ingested cigarettes, cigarette butts or snuff, including depressed respiration, cardiac arrhythmia, and convulsion
- Cigarette butt litter dramatically increases when smoking bans are implemented.
- In Australia, NSW smokers throw away enough butts to fill up 7 Olympic swimming pools.
- It can take up to 12 years for a cigarette butt to break down.
- Butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, whales, birds and other marine animals, which leads to ingestion of hazardous chemicals and digestive blockages.
- Cigarette Butts thrown from a car windoe can start a roadside fire or even a bushfire
- 7% of Australia’s bushfires are caused by discarded cigarettes
- And the final most important thing to know about cigarette butt litter is: Only smokers can stop the litter.