Cigarette butts are not only an eyesore on our streets but are also a major hazard to aquatic life and the environment in general. A recent study by the University of Gothenburg has found that the microfibers and toxic chemicals released from cigarette filters pose a serious threat to aquatic larvae, including mosquitoes, and can even cause fish to die if exposed to the toxins in just two cigarette butts per litre of water.
Bethanie Carney Almroth, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Gothenburg, has called for cigarette filters to be banned, arguing that they are nothing more than a marketing ploy that provide little to no protection to the smoker. In fact, the filters are loaded with harmful chemicals and microplastic fibers, making them a major source of pollution in the environment.
Despite the recent announcement that tobacco producers will soon be responsible for cleaning up cigarette butts, many smokers continue to discard their used filters on the ground, rather than using nearby ashtrays. This behavior has led to millions of kronor in clean-up costs for municipalities and contributes to the growing problem of plastic litter in Sweden and around the world.
Professor Carney Almroth and her team are leading a community science project called the Plastics Experiment, which aims to gather data on plastic litter in Sweden, including the number of cigarette butts with filters. By involving school children and others in the survey, they hope to raise awareness about the dangers of cigarette filters and other plastic products and advocate for stricter regulations to prevent their use in the first place.
It’s clear that cigarette butts with filters are a major environmental hazard and should be banned without delay. As Professor Carney Almroth argues, we need to prevent the problem at the source, rather than cleaning up the mess later. With growing awareness about the devastating impact of plastic pollution on our planet, it’s time to kick the butt of the most common litter item in the world and protect our waterways and wildlife from further harm.