Cigarette smoking has become increasingly popular in the last few decades as smoking has become a symbol of being cool, hip and stylish. Although it is starting to be replaced by electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, tobacco cigarettes are still the most commonly smoked form of cigarettes. Seemingly unbeknownst to the one billion smokers worldwide, the effects of smoking are as widespread as its usage. Each year nearly 6 million people die from tobacco usage and exposure, according to the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Fact Sheet. However, the environmental effects of tobacco cigarettes and tobacco cigarette butts are more widespread that many assume.
“Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food,” reports Clean Virginia Waterways, cigarette butts are a menace to society and wildlife when it comes to their non-degradable properties. Cigarette butts are composed of a plastic substance called cellulose acetate. Therefore cigarette butts will last as long on the side of the road as other forms of plastic like plastic bags, bottles and more.
While soda cans, fast food wrappers and boxes, and even gum wrappers have simple “Please Don’t Litter” messages on their packages, cigarette companies won’t be displaying that message anytime soon as they are already protesting the graphic warning labels that are required by October 2012 on all tobacco products. While cigarette butt litter seems minute because of the sheer size of cigarette butts compared to other commonly littered products such as bottles and soda cans, the several trillion cigarette butts that are littered every year pile up quickly. Not to mention the toxic chemicals that are released, exposed and spread through littered cigarette butts.
Some smokers have realized their negative contribution to the environment and have vowed to make an impact in whatever way possible. Electronic cigarettes have provided an out for those searching for more environmentally friendly alternatives to tobacco cigarettes. While electronic cigarettes do still generate a mild impact on society, an average cartridge contributes one “filter” for each 20 traditional cigarette filters. Not only do electronic cigarettes create less of an environmental impact, they also save money because they cost significantly less than traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes reduce the impact that tobacco cigarettes have on society because they are not adding to the trillions of cigarette butts disposed of yearly; learn about e-cigs as a way of creating a less environmentally impactful alternative.
Lindsay Powell is a young professional improving her writing skills and finding inspiration around her.