//Greener Planet: A World Without Cigarettes
Greener Planet: A World Without Cigarettes 2018-10-17T08:23:28+00:00

Greener Planet: A World Without Cigarettes

Smoking pollutes the air, litters our streets, water, and results in accidental ingestion by small animals and children. cooperation is needed in order to lessen this impact, and restore the planet to health.

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Ever since the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking in 1964, Americans have become more and more educated on the various forms of heart disease, lung disease and cancers smoking can create. It is also common knowledge that smoking causes discoloration of fingernails and teeth as well as other cosmetically damaging effects.

Worldwide, tobacco causes 5 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization. However, one of the most overlooked issues smoking creates is the damaging impact the use, and subsequent discarding of cigarettes, has on the environment.

Generally, the public is well aware that second-hand smoke is very dangerous. According to the CDC, second-hand smoke contains carcinogens, toxic metals and poisonous gases. While all of these substances obviously have adverse effects on human health, they also affect our environment as well. Second-hand smoke goes into our atmosphere and degrades air quality. The CDC also reports that a collection of experiments demonstrated that levels of respirable suspended particulates (RSPs) decreased by up to 96% in public spaces that banned smoking. This substantive improvement in air quality is not only for the sake of health, but a sustainable ecology as well.

Cigarettes are the most common individual item of litter.

Smoking pollutes the air, but the damage to the environment does not stop there. Discarded cigarette butts frequently litter public streets and entryways. Cigarettes are the most common individual item of litter. As reported by the New York Times, it is so prevalent that the city of San Francisco applies a 20 cent tax on cigarette purchases to help cover the $10.7 million the city spends every year on removing cigarette butts from public spaces. When compared to the widespread devastation of cigarettes, e-cigarettes seem like a logical alternative, since the best vapes are entirely sustainable. They can be reused, recharged, and very rarely get thrown out.

The biggest issue concerning discarded cigarette butts is accidental consumption by children or small animals. Studies show that household pets or other small animals that make the mistake of ingesting cigarette litter may suffer tremors, vomiting, respiratory failure and even death. The sight of cigarettes disappearing into a storm drain may ease the guilt of a litterer, but those cigarettes often find their way into bodies of water, and subsequently, the stomachs of marine wildlife. According to a report from ANR, cigarette butts are also a hazard to infants and toddlers. The American Association of Poison Control Centers received 7,310 reports of potentially toxic tobacco product exposure cases in 2008. Just one cigarette butt is dangerous, and a whole cigarette may be lethal if ingested, just like vapes juices and e-liquids can be harmful if swallowed. Although the general public may not immediately recognize it, cigarettes are toxic waste and need to be disposed of properly.

Smoking’s Impact on our Waters: Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Bays


Our oceans, lakes, rivers, and bays are our planet’s lifeblood. Oceans are a primary force in regulating our planet’s weather and climate. Lakes and rivers provide fresh water to drink, and are a major food source for many cultures around the world. Bays and inlets can provide a sanctuary for fishing, as they can block strong winds and large waves. Keeping our water clean means more than campaigning against drilling, or stopping cans and waste from being thrown over the side of boats. One of the biggest threats to the safety of our planet’s waters, is smoking.

Data derived from the Ocean Conservancy demonstrated that approximately 3,216,991 cigarettes or cigarette butts were collected from beaches and inland waterways all over the world in 2009.No-Smoke

While many know that one little cigarette contains about 600 chemicals, 69 of which have been proven to cause cancer, some may not realize that cigarettes produce over 7,000 chemicals when lit. The chemicals found in a cigarette are also highly soluble in water, and can saturate a body of water with contaminants. What often goes unnoticed, is the contents of a cigarette butt. Many are led to believe these make smoking safer. This, however, is simply not true.

Some are under the assumption that cigarette butts are biodegradable. They are not. Cigarette butts are comprised of cellulose acetate. This is a plastic that may disperse into smaller pieces, however, will never biodegrade. This material also meets all city and state department’s guidelines for what is considered to be toxic waste.
The ironic thing is that cigarette butts really don’t do anything. It seems the filters are merely there to make it seem like they are healthier to smoke when the reality is that is not the case. This pollution from cigarettes is for no good reason, then.
According to No-Smoke, data derived from the Ocean Conservancy demonstrated that approximately 3,216,991 cigarettes or cigarette butts were collected from beaches and inland waterways all over the world in 2009, during that year’s annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). However, an astonishing 1,362,741 cigarettes and butts were removed from the waterways of the United States alone. There were other items in relation to smoking that were further collected from U.S. waterways, as well. They include 18,555 cigarette lighters, 74,399 cigar tips, and 36,397 tobacco packages.

In a study performed by Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University, a single cigarette butt that had traces of tobacco was introduced to a liter of water. This resulted in high toxicity levels, and the death of 50% of the fish in the water. This is the result of one little cigarette butt.

How Smoking Affects Livestock


Because of the dangers smoking presents to our farms, it is important that farmers join together in order to spread awareness. Education is the bedrock to ensuring animals remain healthy, and the farm remains thriving.

One of the primary concerns when it comes to the safety of farm animals, is cigarette litter. This is comprised of plastic wrappers, crumpled packages that contain tobacco remnants, and used cigarette butts. Plastic wrappers and packages are most readily eaten by goats and pigs, however they can be ingested by most any animal. This can present a choking hazard, as well as making the animal severely sick when tobacco remnants are present.

Cigarette butts are another issue. Cigarette butts are comprised of cellulose acetate. This is a type of plastic that can breakdown into smaller pieces, but it will never biodegrade. Cigarette butts actually meet every city and state department’s guidelines for what is considered to be toxic waste. Animals such as goats, pigs, cows, horses, fowl, and more, can easily consume these butts. This happens out of curiosity, or by mistake. Either way, once these butts are consumed, the toxins from the material itself and the tobacco remnants can make the animal very sick and can even kill them.
There is some misinformation floating around in which people are claiming that ,a href=”https://www.thoughtco.com/are-cigarette-butts-biodegradable-1204105″>cigarette filters are biodegradable. In 10 to 15 years the cellulose acetate can break down in certain conditions, but the reality is that those conditions are rarely met. And as we just mentioned, they break down into particles without biodegrading. It’s important to battle misinformation and set the record straight.

As any farmer knows, a successful farm is a natural habitat that embodies a balanced ecosystem unto its own. When cigarette butts are thrown onto the ground, the chemical ingredients can affect the soil. This can affect vegetation, which can in turn, affect the animals. This can lead to a total disruption of a farm’s natural balance. To introduce foreign, toxic chemicals to a farm’s ecosystem also means to disrupt its natural sustainability and progression. It hinders the farm’s natural order, and begins to break it down piece by piece. This can lead to a domino effect.
Single-use plastic items are causing plastic pollution creating a devastating effect on water quality throughout the world. This affects all of us, which is why there is an active movement to ban single-use plastic goods such as plastic bags and, yes, cigarette butts.
Contaminating the grass and vegetation can make grazing animals very sick. This also accounts for accidental ingestion of butts by these grazing animals. There is also the issue of water contamination. If a cigarette butt makes it into the animal’s water supply, the results could be deadly. According to Stockton.edu, due to the chemical composition of used cigarette filters, they almost immediately begin to leak arsenic, acetone, ammonia, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, and toluene when introduced to water. This is a biohazard, and can lead to a farm full of very sick animals.

Aiming Toward a Greener Planet

Cigarette disposal is a complex issue that requires effort from both smokers and non-smokers alike. Ideally, this issue would best be solved by reducing the number of people who smoke.

While more and more people are quitting, the placement of ashtrays and cigarette disposal bins in designated smoking areas will help curb pollution. In fact, the most common reason smokers give for littering is simply the lack of having an acceptable location to discard cigarettes. However, smokers must ultimately realize that part of the responsibility associated with their habit is the safe disposal of used cigarettes.

Bottom Line

For more motivation to quit smoking once and for all, visit The Real Cost of Smoking.

Read more about the effects cigarette smoke has on the human body at The Effects of Smoking.

Posted by
Christina Matthews

I love the written word, and in my career as a journalist, I strive to provide the facts about everything I write about. There are too many false and alarmist stories out there about life and vaping mainly. My mission is to make e-cigarettes less scary to people with informative articles and extensive research on not only the possible evils of cigarettes and Big Tobacco, but the objective side of e-cigs.

  1. comment-avatar

    America’s Tobacco Ban – Ramon Vazquez Report

    November 15, 2017 at 7:55 pm Reply

    […] tobacco may also have ramifications on the environment’s health and user’s quality of life. Greener Planet: A World Without Cigarettes shared with it’s audience that smoking pollutes the air, litters our communities, impact our […]

  2. comment-avatar

    Denise Grover

    November 27, 2017 at 1:39 am Reply

    It annoys me when smokers walk away from ashtrays and throw the butts on the ground, or throw them around the outside of the ashtrays.

  3. comment-avatar


    December 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm Reply

    when is this published ? TQ for sharing

  4. comment-avatar


    February 28, 2018 at 6:27 pm Reply

    smoking is bad don’t smoke

  5. comment-avatar


    March 23, 2018 at 12:34 am Reply

    ye man lmfao

  6. comment-avatar


    April 7, 2018 at 1:03 am Reply

    never smoke and if you are quit because you never know what you are killing every time you light up that cigarette. 🙂

  7. comment-avatar


    April 20, 2018 at 12:57 am Reply

    Your absolutely correct

    • comment-avatar


      May 1, 2018 at 7:26 pm Reply

      ya think?

    • comment-avatar

      not grammar police

      May 3, 2018 at 10:06 pm Reply

      sorry to be the grammar police, but it’s “you’re” 🙂

      • comment-avatar


        August 18, 2018 at 1:31 am Reply


  8. comment-avatar


    April 25, 2018 at 3:47 pm Reply

    Smoking can leave this world. Am I right?

  9. comment-avatar

    Nishi Prasad

    April 29, 2018 at 2:42 pm Reply

    I’d request all the smokers to stop smoking. Well anyway, all this valuable information helped my daughter in her essay.

  10. comment-avatar


    May 1, 2018 at 2:40 am Reply

    im doing a research paper on smoking and this was totally helpful! Thanks

  11. comment-avatar


    May 1, 2018 at 7:29 pm Reply

    what about vaping

  12. comment-avatar


    May 1, 2018 at 11:53 pm Reply


  13. comment-avatar

    None yo biz

    May 11, 2018 at 5:29 pm Reply

    smoking is horrid

  14. comment-avatar


    May 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm Reply

    “Keep smoking is good for you” This is what my friend said,too!But I think smoking is bad for you,too!

  15. comment-avatar


    May 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm Reply

    F**k you.i am going to told my dad to not smoke

  16. comment-avatar

    Oyunwola Rebecca

    May 28, 2018 at 11:14 am Reply

    Smoking is not good for the health

  17. comment-avatar

    don`t smoke boy, girl, or other

    May 31, 2018 at 7:51 pm Reply

    smoking suck. u helped me for an assessment

  18. comment-avatar


    June 6, 2018 at 12:03 pm Reply

    when is it published

  19. comment-avatar


    June 6, 2018 at 12:52 pm Reply

    very helpful 🙂

  20. comment-avatar


    June 17, 2018 at 9:14 pm Reply

    thank you i’m doing a report so this is really helpful thanks!

  21. comment-avatar


    June 17, 2018 at 9:16 pm Reply

    i’m doing a project on smoking and this was totally helpful Thanks!!!!! 🙂

  22. comment-avatar


    June 25, 2018 at 7:36 pm Reply

    Smoking needs to die

  23. comment-avatar


    July 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm Reply

    Thank you for the informative message. Inspiring for my own effort in promoting non-smoking campaign! I wish to link it to my Facebook account…

  24. comment-avatar


    August 27, 2018 at 9:49 pm Reply

    Great information, would be great if more publication information was given.

  25. comment-avatar

    Mpho Motaung

    August 30, 2018 at 11:47 am Reply

    Smoking is not good for the environment and for children

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