Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance
Cigarette butts are the most pervasive toxic single-use plastic litter – and the tobacco industry knows this.
Cigarette filters are part of a poor product design. While smokers perceive cigarette filters to be a safety feature enhancing the attractiveness of the cigarette, the filters have been linked to a more aggressive form of cancer. Additionally, cigarette butts or used filters contain microplastics that take over a decade to decompose, leaching out chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead and ethyl phenol that are toxic to terrestrial and aquatic life. Cigarette butts and the plastics in tobacco packaging are estimated to cost governments USD 1 billion a year in waste management costs and USD 20 billion a year in loss of marine ecosystem services. While many national policies have been adopted on regulating plastics, only a few address cigarette butts/tobacco products. World Health Organisation and many NGOs have called for a ban on cigarette filters and for making the tobacco industry accountable for its environmental harms.