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Cigarette Litter

Updated on December 28, 2013

As if smoking didn't have a bad rap already.

I remember when I was a child, my father (a smoke-a-holic) took me to his favorite fishing spot at our local lake. When we arrived, I noticed all these empty bottles and potato chip bags gathering near the water. My father remarked, "Isn't that sad? You know, it only takes a few people too. Out of hundreds, just a few have to not care and you'll wind up with this." He says this, just as he flicks his burned out cigarette into the water.

All my life I was told cigarettes are biodegradable. False.

  • About 95 percent of cigarette filters are not made of cotton, but of a material called cellulose acetate that can take decades to decay.
  • Cigarette butts have dangerous toxic chemicals like tar and traces of nicotine that kills small organisms and plant life.
  • Because of their small size, animals mistake cigarette butts for food all the time, posing a hazard to wildlife, especially marine animals.


Cigarette butts are the world's most littered item. With 1.1 billion smokers on our planet, it is estimated that trillions of filters wind up in nature. Because of their size, these items are overlooked in the fight against pollution. Most smokers believe what they're doing is not wrong, but that they are helping by properly extinguishing cigarettes with their foot or into drainage, preventing wildfire. What they are actually doing is exposing dangerous chemicals and indigestible material to land and marine animals. The sad part is most people don't think anything of it. It is so common, even television and movies portray smokers dropping cigarettes on the ground all the time. According to statistics, only 10 percent of cigarette butts (out of trillions) make it to a disposable ash receptacle. The rest? Out car windows, along sidewalks, down drains, flicked into water (places they don't belong).

And the new laws of smoking indoors is making the problem worse. With more and more people having to smoke outside of buildings, the number of cigarette littering is climbing.

Smoking is a person's right, but be aware that cigarette butts are the number one littered product threatening our ecosystem. Properly dispose of them. It is easy to throw the remainder out the car window, rather than putting it into the car's trash compartment (having to clean it later). Why walk around looking for a trash can when you can stomp it into the ground? It is convenient to litter, especially if this is a product you use frequently, but be responsible and put your cigarette butt where it belongs, in the trash.



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    • mariekbloch profile image

      mariekbloch 6 years ago

      Thanks Eiddwen. Congrats on quiting!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and seeing that ash tray full of disgusting dog ends makes me so glad that we gave up a year and a half ago.

      Thanks for sharing this one and here's to many more hubs to share.

      Take care


    • mariekbloch profile image

      mariekbloch 6 years ago

      Yeah, it makes sense though when you see so many all at once. It's very sad. Thanks for your support!

    • ameliejan profile image

      ameliejan 6 years ago from Alicante, Spain

      Wow, I thought cigarette butts were biodegradable too. Scary! Voted up, this was a very useful hub to read.

    • mariekbloch profile image

      mariekbloch 6 years ago

      Thanks for the vote up. I don't care for cigarettes in general either, alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Hate those things. Voting this Up.

    • mariekbloch profile image

      mariekbloch 6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment. The other day I went to my local pond and it was just littered with cigarette butts. I wish more people were aware of the danger in it.

    • FishAreFriends profile image

      FishAreFriends 6 years ago from Colorado

      I didn't know they were so dangeous. I saw them around the ground alot, but never thought twice. This is gross, and very bad for our ecosystem.

      Good, informative hub. Very useful.