In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a move to make people aware of the health hazards associated with smoking cigarettes. Among these health hazards were heart disease, emphysema, and cancer. In order to make cigarettes healthier for smokers and to combat further government intervention into the industry, cigarette manufacturers inserted filters on one end of the cigarette. These filters kept some of the tars and nicotine from being inhaled by the consumer. The filters, then, made the cigarette marginally “safer”. (Clark)
In creating these filters, however, the cigarette industry created an entirely new problem for the world. Cigarettes cause many problems for health, but we already knew that. Not many people think about the effect they have on the environment. People believe that they are not harming anything because a cigarette butt is so small. “With the flick of a butt, far reaching, devastating consequences can occur, or absolutely nothing can happen.” (EcoGreenBags) There are, however, some things in the cigarette filter inside of the cigarette butt that are not biodegradable, so a part of each cigarette butt will remain forever. Cigarette butts thrown out of car windows are also the leading cause of litter, creating millions of pounds of trash. (Mulch)
Once a cigarette butt is thrown out of a car window, there are a few different paths it may take.
If a cigarette butt is not properly put out, it may burn for up to three more hours. This is the leading cause of forest fires and bush fires. (Alipio)
Once a cigarette is released from a car window, it could travel down through the sewer, and from there, out to rivers, streams, and eventually out to the ocean. Fish easily mistake cigarette butts for food tablets, choking and eventually dying from them. “Animals are not resistant to nicotine and other toxic chemicals found in filters.” (Laveaga) If something is not done to those filters from waterways and wild life habitats, we could see entire species of fish and other animals suffer the consequences perhaps leading to the extinction of some of these animals.
There are many solutions to solving the environmental issues caused by improper disposal of cigarette butts. The most important solution is buyer education and responsibility. By making consumers responsible and more aware of what they are doing will work to change how cigarette butts are disposed. We can put this into effect by putting labels on cigarette cartons or creating commercials on how cigarette butts are harming the environment. Cigarette companies can distribute small, free, portable ashtrays with the purchase of a carton of cigarettes. If the consumer does not change the manner in which they are disposing of their cigarette butts, we can enforce a waste tax to be paid by those purchasing cigarettes so that taxes paid by non-smoking consumers are not used for the cleanup of cigarette butts. Fines may also be imposed on those...