World Ocean Day- Protect Our Oceans From Smoking

Smoking has well-known first and second-hand harms, but the disposal of the butts left over after smoking a cigarette can also have serious consequences for our planet’s oceans.

Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and remain in the environment for up to 15 years once they have been discarded. Not only this, cigarette butts are made out of tiny plastic microfibers, which once dropped on the ground, eventually find their way to the ocean via drains in the street. The chemicals from the cigarettes are leached into the environment from cigarette butts which are very toxic, and could easily pollute the ocean and the marine ecosystem.  The fish then ingest these plastics and chemicals, meaning they can easily make it into our food chain.

One cigarette butt left to soak in water for 96 hours will release enough toxins to kill half of the salt or freshwater fish that are exposed to it!

Cigarette ends have been found in the guts of whales, dolphins, turtles and sea birds. When animals ingest cigarette butts, it leads to inflammation of the digestive system, a blockage in the gut which can be fatal and leaching of toxic chemicals into the blood stream.

Protect Our Oceans by Stopping Smoking

Smoking’s impact on the oceans isn’t easy to address because regardless of where cigarette butts are littered, they can make their way into the water cycle. The most obvious solution to the problem is to continue in our efforts to reduce the number of smokers in society. 

Other ways to protect the oceans from smoking:

  • Forcing cigarette companies to make filters biodegradable

  • Imposing fines on anybody caught littering cigarette butts and ensuring there are more locations to responsibly dispose of cigarette butts

Whatever approach is used, reducing the waste from cigarettes should be a priority to protect our oceans.

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