The filter in cigarettes is packed with plastic fibres, big tobacco are flooding the world with microplastics

It is hard to believe it, but the most common source of plastic pollution we throw into the environment is cigarette ends. Worldwide 800,000 metric tonnes of cigarettes are burnt each year.

The butts contain 7000 toxic chemicals and take a decade to degrade. Also 70% of seabird stomachs examined and 30% of sea turtle stomachs contained at least one cigarette butt.

Given the quantity of single use plastics in a cigarette, they should be banned like every other type of single use plastic.

Tobacco companies have pledged to stop selling cigarettes yet worldwide 6 trillion are produced every year. It is quite simple – an industry which creates 800,000 tonnes of cigarette butts a year cannot be classed as sustainable.

If governments required tobacco companies to clean up all cigarette butts at the end of life – this would hammer home how difficult it is.

Biodegradable filters already exist, but until these either become legally required or the companies are forced to pay to clean up all their mess they have little reason to do the right thing.

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