An estimated 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts enter the environment every year. Just take a few moments to let that sink in, tell someone – it’s a truly frightening figure, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts!
Apart from the littering itself, the major issue is the filters. They are not, as commonly thought, made of paper, but cellulose acetate, a type of plastic which persists in the environment for many years. As with many types of marine litter, cigarette ends can be mistaken for food and eaten by marine animals. They have been found in the guts of whales, dolphins, sea birds and turtles where they can leach toxic chemicals, cause inflammation of the animal’s digestive system and occasionally, if they cause a blockage of the gut, even death.
The cigarette filters are designed to absorb tar and chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. When filters enter the water these chemicals cause pollution by leaching out. Experiments have shown that just one cigarette filter is toxic enough to kill water fleas in eight litres of water (K. Register, 2000.)
SAS’s “No Butts on the Beach” campaign is part of the solution. As with all SAS campaigns, we try to provide a positive, sustainable solution to help people dispose of their butts responsibly – the butt bin!
The butt bin is designed to let smokers stub out their cigarettes and store them safely and without causing a mess until they can get to a bin. SAS has already given thousands out free at events and with merchandise orders but if you are a smoker or know of a smoker who would use a butt bin to help save wildlife and the marine environment then you can contact SAS for a free butt bin now (while stocks last)!!