Yes, people are doing exactly that. Walk down any sidewalk or road, and you’ll see them. Cigarette butts everywhere! They litter our cities, our parks, and our beaches. But this form of pollution is more than just nasty to look at. Discarded butts are also dangerous to the environment. They end up in water supplies, animals ingest them, and they end up parks, beaches, places where our little brothers and sisters play. It’s gross and dangerous.
Sure, there’s a lot of other forms of trash, but that doesn’t make it right, especially when you consider that an estimated 1.69 BILLION cigarette butts litter the world every single year. So, by the time you graduate high school at 18 years old, 30.42 billion cigarette butts will have been added to the world’s litter problem. That’s a staggering number with serious environmental implications.
Trees are cut down to make a lot of different things, right? Homes, fuel, and a ton of other things that are super important. But what about cigarettes? Why do tobacco companies cut down hundreds of thousands of forest acres every year just to make a deadly product? Does this seem sane? All that destruction to create a seriously additive product known to cause to death and disease. Really?! Come on!
Is there really a global impact? There are so many issues facing the world today. You can now add tobacco-related deforestation to that list. 35 countries are facing an environmental crisis just because tobacco companies continue to slash and burn their trees to make cigarettes. In South Africa, 12% of all trees cut down are used to make tobacco products. It’s even worse in Korea, where 45% of deforestation is attributed to tobacco production. Check out the graph below and
A lot of effort goes into keeping our beaches clean, so you can imagine how frustrating it is when cigarette butts are routinely the most collected piece of trash in beach clean up efforts. It’s frustrating to see it, lay down near it, or hanging on the beach and seeing all around your feet. And that’s not even counting the butts that end up in the water and end up hurting marine life. That’s right, all those chemicals that are left in cigarette butts leak out and make fish and other aquatic species sick. Read more about all those butts, clean up efforts, and sick fish in these studies.
*Calculated using findings from Tobacco Growing in Uganda study (Muwanga-Bayego, 1994) found that farmers reported using 130kg of wood to cure 1kg of tobacco, while government and tobacco industry officials estimate 100kg of wood to cure 1kg of tobacco. Using the government and tobacco industry’s own estimate, we calculated the per pack wood requirement assuming 26g of tobacco per pack of cigarettes. Converting to pounds, this amounted to 5.7lbs of wood per pack of cigarettes.